Morocc-and-roll: WC takes Morocco

By The Elm - Nov 08,2013@5:16 pm

Al Akhawayn University (left) hosted the Second Annual Conference on the Muslim World from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. Representatives from Maryland (middle), including five WC students and two professors, attended the conference where they presented their research on topics affecting the Muslim World. While not attending presentations, the group was able to explore Fez for a day, where they could shop for things such as textiles (right).
Photo by Emma Way

By Emma Way
Senior Writer

Five Washington College students represented the College at the Second Annual Conference on the Muslim World. This year the conference was held in the mountain resort town of Ifrane, Morocco in Northern Africa on the campus of Al Akhawayn University. About 40 undergraduates, graduates, and faculty were in attendance from a wide array of different countries.

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies and Director of the Program in Islamic, Turkish, and Near Eastern Studies, Dr. Tahir Shad said, “The unique feature of this conference was that it brought undergraduate, graduate, and faculty together. I think it gave [undergraduate] students the opportunity to network, but also… to see what graduate… papers are like.”

Beginning Thursday, Oct. 31 and ending Saturday, Nov. 2, the conference consisted of about a dozen presentations a day all regarding a specific topic affecting the Muslim World.The overall theme of the conference was transformation in the Muslim World with a great emphasis on the Arab Spring, a period of unrest and protest in the Arab World that began at the end of 2010.

The Institute for Religion, Politics, and Culture’s program in Islamic, Turkish, and Near Eastern Studies at WC was one of the sponsors for the event, with other sponsors including Creative Learning Inc. and Al Akhawayn University.

Shad and Dr. Joseph Prud’homme, associate professor of political science and the director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture, worked very closely together in planning the conference.

“Tahir and I worked… on organizing this conference and used our contacts a group of [about] 15 universities around the world who would participate in this conference,” said Prud’homme.

Photo by Emma Way

Additionally Dr. Muqtedar Khan, an associate professor of political science and international relations at University of Delaware, worked with both WC professors in arranging all the logistics for the event.

Prud’homme said, “The conference took a tremendous amount of time to plan… Arranging such a diverse group of participants brought from universities across the world was a challenge, but made the conference very rewarding.”

WC’s representatives for the conference, Robert Billings, Alison Percich, Katherine Young, Dominic Lathos, and myself, were selected with the help of Dr. Christine Wade, associate professor of political science and international studies, Shad, and Prud’homme.

Each conference day began with breakfast and closed with dinner, all taken care of by Al Akhawayn University. The representatives’ presentations were broken up into various sessions all having a specific focus ranging from gender to politics. In addition to presentations, some of the faculty also led workshops and roundtable discussions.

Young, a junior, presented on the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, said, “The roundtable discussion was probably one of the best parts of the conference because it was a great opportunity for you to listen to everyone else’s opinions as well as to express your own.”
Following each session was an opportunity for questions, which typically spurred a larger debate.

Percich, a junior, presented on her country of interest, Bahrain. She said, “A highlight of the conference was after I presented about Bahrain a lot of people included it in their presentations… I was really happy about that because I realized it stuck in people’s minds.”

Photo by Emma Way

The presentations not only received attention on the campus of Al Akhawayn University, but also on Moroccan national television, Twitter, and YouTube. Lathos, a junior, and myself were both interviewed regarding our presentations for the university’s YouTube page.

In addition to having the opportunity to present their findings, students and faculty were also given the opportunity to have their work published. Eight people will have their papers published in an academic journal by the Global Association for the Study of the Muslim World, an association created as a result of this conference.

Furthermore, a conference for next year has already been announced. “We look forward to running this conference, which is now going to be in its third year, next year in Istanbul, Turkey,” said Prud’homme.

The Elm

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