This international and interdisciplinary project brings together academics from different social sciences, like Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Middle Eastern Studies, from universities in Germany, Morocco, Iran and Pakistan.
The project has two aims. On the one hand it is research-oriented; it wants to contribute to better understand the ongoing developments and changes in the Middle East and North Africa. At the same time it is aiming at intercultural cooperation, both between academics and students of different countries.
- The research component is analyzing the underlying dynamics of the transformations in the Middle East and North Africa. This means identifying the main causes of change and how they unfold. What are the basic factors for political and social changes to turn violent or to follow peaceful paths? Furthermore the role of the (new) media and particularly the importance of women in the transformation need more analysis. Finally, the potential effects and opportunities of the current changes for Western-Muslim relations and for Intercultural Dialogue will be analyzed. In these fields the project partners from Morocco, Pakistan and Germany are in the lead, but Iranian, Egyptian and researchers from other countries are participating as well.
- The student-focused activities of the project includes a program of students’ exchange between Tehran University and the University of Duisburg-Essen, and a yearly Summer School organized jointly by the Pakistani, Moroccan and German partners, but open to others, as well. Also PhD students from several countries are given opportunity to participate in both the research and the teaching parts of the project.
By bringing together researchers, academic teachers and students from different (Arab and non-Arab) countries of the Muslim World and Germany these objectives are pursued from different perspectives. The diversity of cultural and academic traditions of the respective partners is an important resource. Thereby a Eurocentric point of view can be avoided. The current change is creating a greater intellectual openness and freedom for intellectual pluralism and research, which should be strengthened by and used for increasing intercultural academic cooperation.
By focusing on the research questions and the student-centered activities mentioned above, the project aims at intensifying interaction and scientific cooperation between the involved institutions of higher education in Morocco, Pakistan, Iran and Germany. Stable and sustainable networks of cross-cultural research and academic cooperation will only be achieved by common academic interests and research and by common academic teaching. Intercultural academic cooperation in the social sciences will be able to develop sustainability only by practically working together on topics of common interest. This is the key intention of the project.