The long-term objective of this inter-departmental initiative is the advancement of human knowledge and civilisation through the scholarly study and analysis of Shi'ite thought and teachings, its more immediate central aim is to facilitate and encourage debate, research and the growth of Shi'ite studies in the UK and the Continent.
Our aim is to support individual and collaborative research centred on six main research themes:
• the origins and evolution of Shi'ism;
• Shi'ite philosophy and gnosticism;
• the issue of ijtihad;
• the origins and development of Shi'ite exegesis;
• state and government in Shi'ite thought and history;
• Shi'ite clerical structures and institutions.
Attempts will be made to achieve this through four principal routes:
• By encouraging links and exchanges between scholars and institutions in the UK and the Musilm world where the study of Shi'ism has an academic footing.
• By hosting seminars, workshops and conferences to bring together the latest research in the field, and to highlight and communicate to a wider audience the richness and diversity of Shi'ite studies.
• By providing, through its links with external funding bodies, opportunities for aspiring scholars to pursue postgraduate research in the field of Shi'ite studies, thus paving the way for the gradual emergence of a new generation of academics versed in various areas of the discipline.
• By facilitating the publication of high quality studies, principally - though not exclusively - through the medium of the Durham Middle East Papers series.
• provide postgraduate research supervision
• run extramural and summer courses in Shi'ite thought, Arabic and Persian
• run courses in English for visiting scholars from overseas
• organise conferences and seminars
• provide consultancy in relevant subject areas
It is hoped that it will be possible to host an annual international conference, at which guest speakers from the Shi'ite world of learning will be able to meet with their Western colleagues in an atmosphere of good-will and co-operation to share the fruits of their research with others.
Dr Colin Turner