Students in the Islamic Civilization and Society Program

Dr. Nasser Al-Sane, Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Kuwait (Majlis Al-Umma), with students in the Islamic Civilization and Society program

The Islamic Civilization and Societies program is an interdisciplinary program for undergraduates interested in the breadth and depth of the Islamic World, a vast region stretching halfway around the globe from Western Africa to the Pacific Islands. Students will discover the surprising diversity of culture and interpretation in these countries, a diversity that will challenge their assumptions and enlarge their understanding. Studying in the Program will reveal centuries long history of empires and kings, including many of the peaks of human civilization in the areas of art, theology, philosophy and science. We will see the Islamic philosophic scholars of Spain, the conquests of Gengis Khan, the decline of the last vestiges of the Roman Empire, and the ever-troubled history of the Holy Land.

This diversity rebels against any attempt at a narrow approach to understanding these cultures. Thus, the Program possesses a unique interdisciplinary nature, permitting students to gain an appreciation for the complexities and nuance of the Islamic World. Students will study from various departments including Political Science, History, Fine Arts and Theology. Furthermore, students will attain the proficiency in Arabic (or another language related to the Islamic World) vital to a truly immersive attempt at understanding these societies as they understand themselves.

As a result, ICS students will take courses with excellent faculty selected from across the University rather than being limited to the traditional bounds of an everyday major or minor. With academic advisement from these participating faculty, students can shape their studies to accord with the ambitions they may hope to pursue after graduation. The Program prepares students equally well for careers in diplomacy, journalism, international business, government, social service, think tanks and policymaking as well as graduate academic or other professional study.

Perhaps more importantly, however, the program prepares students for an active and informed citizenship no matter their plans for the future. For more than half a century the Islamic world has taken a central place in the foreign policy of many Western nations, and increasingly, of the rising BRIC nations as well. Yet the issues we must decide upon are complex and often permit of far more nuance than what we are likely to find in mainstream news media today. Therefore, if we wish to participate in the decisions of our government concerning such delicate issues, it is vital that we come to understand these societies in order to make informed and  responsible choices.