The Summer Student Program (SSP) has officially begun! Twenty-two graduate students with diverse academic backgrounds and from various universities in the US and Canada attended the opening session on Monday June 25th, 2018. The students, who were carefully selected from a pool of highly qualified applicants, were admitted into the intensive residential program in Islamic Studies, which was initiated in 2008.
The five-week rigorous program is comprised of six core courses and six seminars taught by leading scholars and professors. Students will be able to conduct research on a topic of their interest and present their research to faculty members, peers and IIIT staff. In addition, the students will attend the IIIT Summer Institute for Scholars, which is held on July 11-13, 2018.
Dr. Ermin Sinanovic, the Director of Research at IIIT, welcomed the students and professors and introduced the SSP: its inception, the intention behind it, and the scope of learning attained from this unique program. In the end, he shared how past students had memorable learning experiences through the program and from each other, and that they made life-long connections that – in some instances – blossomed into marriage!
Prof. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, senior strategic advisor for the new IIIT project, Advancing Education in Muslim Societies (AEMS), briefly introduced the AEMS project, the idea behind it, and the anticipated outcome of the research. She encouraged those students whose research is focused on education to reach out to her at any time if they needed assistance or advice, during the program or in the future.
Prof. John Voll grabbed the attention of the “young” audience with his engaging introduction. Before he concluded his talk, he explained that he will begin his lecture the next day with a video of the heavy metal band Metallica. He told the students to come prepared the next day with their answers to his question: “Why would he start his lecture with a Metallica video?”
The students had the chance to ask questions and learn more about the program in the afternoon session which also included the presentation on the history and mission of the IIIT. Some students shared their initial thoughts on the program. Kenly Stewart, a second year graduate student pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Wake Forest University, School of Divinity, said: “… to learn more about the Muslim faith and my Muslim brothers and sisters and hopefully we can work together as Christians and Muslims to make the world a better and peaceful place and serve God together”. As for Sawyer French, an MA student at the University of Chicago Divinity School, his reason for joining the program was because “… it would be a good opportunity to meet other young aspiring scholars in the field. I don’t think there is really anywhere you can be in a cohort of 20 Islamic studies students in the US … and take classes with 15 of the leading Islamic studies professors in the field.”