Claremont, Calif. (September 6, 2016)—Pitzer College kicks off its Munroe Center for Social Inquiry’s 2016-17 speaker and event series, “Islam: Beyond Ideological Narratives,” today with a talk by Amat Alsoswa, the former minister for human rights in Yemen. Alsoswa, who will speak about Yemeni women’s rights, is the first in a lineup of distinguished speakers that includes 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ouided Bouchamaoui. These experts will explore a wide range of issues, including modernity, fundamentalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, US involvement in the Middle East and the effects of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Pitzer College Associate Professor of Philosophy Ahmed Alwishah, who teaches Islamic philosophy and is the 2016-17 director of the Munroe Center for Social Inquiry (MCSI), said the speakers and events are designed to “help us better understand the Islamic world.”
“There are many conflicting views on the Islamic world,” said Alwishah. “That’s why we need to hear from the people who have the expertise and experience to help us look at the Islamic world from a fresh perspective.”
The MCSI series’ speakers come from a variety of backgrounds—they are activists, academics, filmmakers and national leaders. Bouchamaoui is part of the National Dialogue Quartet, a group that won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to build a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia. Bouchamaoui’s talk, “How to Save the Country from Collapse: Reflections on the Tunisian Journey,” will be held on Friday, October 7, at 11 a.m. via a video conference. Other speakers include Kamal Aljafari, a Palestinian filmmaker and director, Abbas Milani from Stanford University’s Iranian Studies program and historian Rosie Bsheer from Yale University.
As part of the series, MCSI will host a live video conference on September 27 with students from Habib University in Karachi, Pakistan. During the video chat, Pitzer students and community members will talk with their counterparts in Pakistan about the topic of “Fundamentalism: the Old and the New.”
“The educational value of having a dialogue between students from different universities—one in Claremont, one in Karachi—is priceless,” Alwishah said. “Students will be able to discuss issues—agree, disagree, clarify—in real time. It’s education in the twenty-first century.”
A full list of “Islam: Beyond Ideological Narratives” speakers and events can be found on MCSI’s webpage. All events are on Tuesdays at 4:15 p.m. in Pitzer College’s George C.S. Benson Auditorium unless otherwise noted. The date and time of Ouided Bouchamaoui’s talk has been updated.
Each academic year, the Ruth and Lee Munroe Center for Social Inquiry sponsors a themed series of events that reflect the pursuit of interdisciplinary learning and public inquiry embodied by founding faculty members Robert “Lee” Munroe, research professor of anthropology, and the late Ruth Hagberg Munroe, who taught psychology at Pitzer College for more than 25 years.