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Villanova University's Center for Arab and Islamic Studies Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Four-Day International Conference

The conference will bring together top scholars, artists, educators and authors from around the world to discuss a wide variety of Arab & Islamic topics including history, religion, politics, art and culture

For Immediate Release
March 30, 2009

VILLANOVA, Pa., March 30, 2009 – Villanova University’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a four-day international conference bringing top scholars, artists, educators and authors from around the world to the Villanova campus. “Mirror Images: Challenges for Arab and Islamic Studies” will take place April 1-4, with more than 40 events, most of which are open to the public.

The Center was established 25 years ago with the goal of giving students the opportunity to add an Arab and Islamic dimension to their understanding of global issues and world cultures. It has since been used as a model for other international programs that now exist at the University.

“We live in a global world and there is a need for our students to understand one another, to have knowledge of the different regions and its people and to have a mutual respect for one another,” said the Rev. Kail C. Ellis, O.S.A., Ph.D., Villanova’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and founding director of Villanova’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies. “The goal of this conference was to create a dialogue on Arab and Islamic topics such as history, politics, diversity, arts and culture.”

Juan R.I. Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan, will deliver the conference’s keynote address, “Foreign Affairs, Contemporary Politics and Middle East Studies: The Contributions of Academia,” discussing the interaction of these programs with other disciplines and its place within Academe. Other featured conference speakers include James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, and Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American sociologist, author and human rights activist, in addition to other leading scholars in the field such as Barbara Stowasser, Yvonne Haddad, Nathan Brown and Valerie Orlando.

Following the keynote address, the University will host a banquet and pay tribute to Dr. Hafeez Malik, founding member of the Villanova Center for Arab and Islamic Studies. Registration and tickets are required for the event.

More than 30 conference sessions will focus on a multitude of topics, creating a bridge of communication and understanding about the Arab and Islamic world. Among the topic areas are:

  • Education: Teaching of Arab & Islamic Studies; Academe and Arab Islamic Studies
  • Politics: Islamic-based Self Representation and Political Movements
  • History: The Ottoman Empire
  • Philosophy: Roots of Arab Philosophy
  • Economics: Economic Foundations of Islam; Natural Resources in the Middle East
  • Law, Justice and Human Rights: Justice, Human Rights and Democratization in the Maghreb; Law in the Arab World: Religious and Secular; Islamic Law and Legal Procedures
  • Arts and Culture: Contemporary Arab Literature; Arab Calligraphy; Texts and Contexts in Arab Literature
  • Religion and Diversity: Diversity in Islamic Tradition; Many Faces of Islam; The Abrahamic Other
  • Mathematics: Mathematics in the Islamic World
  • Gender studies: Perspectives on Muslim Women
  • Literature: Texts and Contexts in Arab Literature; Contemporary Arab Literature; New Literary Consciousness: Studies in Exile.
  • Media: Reflections and Representations

Arts and culture will also be celebrated throughout the conference, starting with a screening of the film Caramel. Internationally acclaimed actress and film director Nadine Labaki will be present for the screening, with a question and answer session to follow. “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” a stage performance based on a young woman’s diaries, will be presented, directed by Sean O’Donnell and starring Courtney Day Nassar. Noted authors Pierre Joris, Susan Abulhawa, Habib Tengour and Eric Sellin will read from their works and take part in a book signing, and “Women Take the Camera in the Middle East” will feature a one-on-one session with popular music video producer Mayada al-Hiraki and film director Nadine Labaki.

For a detailed conference schedule and information about all of the events and participants visit:

The Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at Villanova University hosts an interdisciplinary program that gives students the opportunity to add an Arab and Islamic dimension to their understanding of global issues and world cultures. It prepares those considering careers in government or business related to the region and for advanced graduate studies concentrating on the Arab world and Islam. The Center organizes lectures, film series and conferences by renowned scholars, cultural events and outreach programs. Villanova University was one of the nation’s first universities to create an Arab and Islamic studies program in 1983.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.