Monday, March 14, 2011

Big Conference on Science, Religion, Culture, and Modernity

This is a weekly post by Nidhal Guessoum (see his earlier posts here). Nidhal is an astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at American University of Sharjah and is the author of Islam's Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science.

From 21 to 23 June 2011, a big conference will be held at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) in the UAE, jointly organised by the British Council (BC) in partnership with AUS and in association with the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR). The conference forms part of the British Council’s “Belief in Dialogue” initiative, which is intended to foster closer inter-faith dialogue on matters of common cultural interest, including religious belief and the place and significance of the sciences in various worldviews.

The conference is titled “Belief in Dialogue: Science, Culture and Modernity”.  In addition to plenary lectures and discussions, parallel sessions will be devoted to the exploration of three broad themes running through the conference:
·      Science and Religion: Two Cultures?
·      Cultures of Belief in Modern Societies
·      Ethical Values and Human Responsibility. This theme will explore ethical issues in relation to the environment, to questions of sustainability and to problems arising from new technologies – including such controversial matters as stem-cell research.
A further stream within the conference will comprise a series of seminars specially designed for about 50 selected student participants.
One or two public debates are also planned and will likely be broadcast by the BBC World Service and BBC Arabic TV, along with other media activity. 
Thirty outstanding invited speakers have confirmed their participation, including HE Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the Turkish scholar who is currently the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), who will be giving the opening keynote speech, Tariq Ramadan, the well-known scholar of Islam and Philosophy, and many others from around the world.
A list of plenary speakers also includes Paul Davies, Zia Sardar, Munawar Anees, Andrew Briggs, John Hedley Brooke, Philip Clayton, William Grassie, Nidhal Guessoum, Salman Hameed, Aref Nayed, Jean Staune, Mehdi Golshani, and Ronald Numbers.
I would thus like to invite anyone interested in such topics to submit an abstract for the conference, and to encourage students and young researchers to apply for participation in the students seminar.
For further info, including the submission process, please visit the AUS conference website ( -- note that the deadline for abstract submissions will be extended) as well as for the students seminar (
Finally, please do circulate this announcement around you, particularly at universities, around the world.
Hope to see some of you here…


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