The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World was established in 2010 at the University of Edinburgh through a grant from Alwaleed bin Talal Foundation. “The Alwaleed Centre” has adopted six key objectives for its robust program in its mission to improve understanding of Islam through education:
- To improve radically knowledge of Islamic civilization and of Muslims in Britain among policy-makers, the general public and students of all ages in the UK through a comprehensive educational outreach program, and by helping to integrate the study of Islamic civilization into the school curriculum.
- To advance tolerance, mutual understanding and cross-cultural dialogue between Islam and the West by building new partnerships with institutions in the Muslim world, and with mosques and madrasas within the UK.
- To foster intellectual curiosity and build educational excellence among young Diaspora Muslims in the United Kingdom.
- To create the UK‘s leading resource for expertise on Islam in the modern world, based on the integration of the study of Islamic civilization and issues relating to Islam in modern Britain.
- To produce, on a self-sustaining basis, a world-class cadre of researchers at the postgraduate and post-doctoral levels by providing studentships and fellowships designed to feed into the next generation of academics as well as the public and private sectors.
- To establish a model partnership network with Muslim and other universities around the world, both within and outside the Arab world, that creates new opportunities for knowledge transfer and fosters collaborative research.
In a world where Islam is routinely presented as a threat to Western beliefs and values, responsible institutions have an obligation to help develop a correct understanding of Islam and Islamic culture. The Alwaleed Centre is focused on imparting that knowledge to school students across Scotland and UK through focusing on four key areas:
1. Study Days across Scotland
In cooperation with local authorities and education officials, the Alwaleed Centre delivers School Days where senior students learn about Islamic civilization from world-renowned experts, interact with local Scottish Muslims and debate topical issues concerning the relationship between the world of Islam and the West.
2. Teaching the teachers
The Alwaleed Centre is helping to plug a major knowledge and training gap by offering Continued Professional Development (CPD) training to Religious, Moral and Philosophical Education (RMPE) teachers to help them teach Islam with confidence. The political dimensions of Islam in the contemporary world coupled with the wide diversity of Islamic belief and practice often leave teachers feeling unsure about what should and should not be taught. Every teacher in Scotland is required to attend thirty-five hours of Continued Professional Development (CPD) training per year, but there is little, if any, CPD provision in the field of Islam.
3. Contributions to the Scottish curriculum
The Alwaleed Centre will play a curriculum development advisory role through its seat on the Scottish Joint Committee on Religious and Moral Education. The Joint Committee advises the Scottish Government on curriculum development, organizes regular conferences and seminars and disseminates key information to schools and local authorities across Scotland. The Joint Committee meets twice a year and the Alwaleed Centre will ensure that Islam remains high on the agenda.
4. Innovative research
The Alwaleed Centre has commissioned a three-year research project exploring Muslim pupils’ educational experiences in England and Scotland. The project has been undertaken by the Moray House School of Education and is now in its second year. The research involves interviews with Muslim families across England and Scotland and will provide an important glimpse into the experiences, choices and perceptions of education amongst English and Scottish Muslims. The results of this research project will be made available to the UK and Scottish governments, local authorities and individual schools in order to help shape the future experiences of Muslim pupils across the UK.
The Centre also hosts and organizes seminars and conferences that support Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding. To know more about the activities of the Alwaleed Centre, please visit the website.
Read about the other Alwaleed Centers:
Harvard – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program
Beirut – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research
Cairo – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research
Cambridge – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies
Georgetown – Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding