2016 International Summer Program

Expressions of Diversity: An Introduction to Muslim Cultures


The ninth annual International Summer Program: Expressions of Muslim Diversity is scheduled for the week of July 11-15, 2016 at the Simon Fraser University campus in Vancouver.  This year’s theme focuses attention on knowledge, power, and identity in Muslim contexts.  The Expressions of Diversity visiting Professor for 2016 will be Dr. Karim H. Karim, the Director of the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam. The International Summer Program is a joint production of the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (Simon Fraser University) and the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (Aga Khan University, UK).  Participants receive a Certificate on the completion of the program. 

Click below to download the ISP 2016 brochure or poster.  For more information on the 2016 program, see below or contact the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures at Simon Fraser University ccsmsc@sfu.ca

General Overview

The events of September 11, 2001 generated an upsurge in the public interest in the religion of Islam and the societies and culture of Muslims.  Much of this interest, however, focused on a very narrow slice of Islam, especially “fundamentalist” Muslim groups, their religio-political attitudes, and foreign policy objectives. An incomplete and distorted public picture emerged of a single Islamic and Muslim perspective of past and present, which was thought to be determined by primordial political passions and inimical to humanism and modernity.  Moreover, the public representation of Islam and Muslims frequently was accompanied by unfavourable prejudgments such as Islamophobia and increasingly diverged from the perspectives of academics on the diversity of Muslim contexts of the past and present.  

The International Summer Program: Expressions of Muslim Diversity was founded in 2008 as a corrective to these widespread views of a monolithic political Islam and as a forum to bring academics back into the public discussion of Islamic and Muslim phenomena. Major international scholars are assembled on campus to provide instructional modules and workshops addressing in an unbiased and academic manner diverse facets of the history, culture, and contemporary challenges of Muslims.  The strategic objective of the program is through academic engagement of the public to equip a cohort of participants with the resources and skills to understand the full range of historical contexts and contemporary relevance of the experiences of Muslim peoples. This is done through the provision of a critical-historical understanding of Muslim societies and cultures within larger frameworks that recognize the importance of interdisciplinary and comparative approaches across regions, without reducing this understanding to issues solely related to the religion of Islam.

Now in its ninth year, the internationally renowned program is co-sponsored by the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures at Simon Fraser University and the Aga Khan University (UK) Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and alternates yearly between the London and Vancouver campuses. The Program is designed by academic professionals in Muslim Studies, and will be of benefit to a range of individuals, including interfaith and senior networks, students, and professionals from intermediate and higher education, government, business, health, NGO, immigration, social support, and other sectors needing a comprehensive and unbiased introduction to Muslim contexts.

2016 International Summer Program at Simon Fraser University

The 2016 summer program will be held at the downtown Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University in a concentrated week from Monday July 11 to Friday July 16.   Its modules, lectures, and workshops will focus on the important topic of knowledge, power, and identity, with a particular concern for the diversity of Muslim contexts over time and place.  In a critical yet accessible series of faculty engagements, participants will discuss systems of knowledge within Muslim societies and the ways that these diverse forms of knowing produced identities within larger power differentials.  The faculty modules represent multiple viewpoints and years of careful thought by scholars concerned with issues of the social and intellectual contexts of Muslim knowledge. 

In addition to modules, workshops, and lectures, the 2016 summer program will continue the Vancouver custom of chai-khana, which will consist of demonstrations of local Muslim culture such as calligraphy and music and  informal discussions with faculty, guests, and participants over tea at the end of the day. Chai-khana, meaning “tea house,” is a place where tea is consumed in a context of lively table-talk among friends and strangers.  We invoke this institution as a way to have a closer and more informal contact with colleagues and instructors throughout the week. 

The 2016 Summer Program will be hosted by the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies at Simon Fraser University at its downtown Vancouver campus, located at the foot of the majestic coastal mountains of British Columbia, only minutes from Georgia Strait.

Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end of the program.


2016 Expressions of Muslim Diversity Visiting Professor

The 2016 Expressions of Muslim Diversity Visiting Professor will be Dr. Karim H. Karim, Professor of Communication at Carleton University and Director of the Carleton Centre for the Study of Islam.  An acutely perceptive observer of the contexts of knowing Islam and Muslims, Professor Karim is the author or editor of numerous works, including the ground-breaking collections of essays, Re-imagining the Other: Culture, Media, and Western Muslim Intersections (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2014) and Engaging the Other: Public Policy and Western-Muslim Intersections (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).  He will provide a module, a lecture, and engagement with participants and faculty throughout the week.

To view all ISP 2016 Faculty Click Here


2016 International Summer Program Fees

The program fee for the 2016 ISP is C$550.00, with a concessionary rate for full-time students and seniors over 65 years of age of C$275.00.  

The program fee includes all modules, lectures, workshops, chai-khanas, hand-outs, syllabus, and refreshments.

Participants are responsible for their own accommodations, travel to and from the venue, health insurance, visa costs, books, and meals. 

The CCSMSC is the administrator of the 2016 International Summer Program.

2016 International Summer Program Application Process

1. Please fill out and submit the online application.  Applications are evaluated by the ISP Admissions Committee at the CCSMSC as they arrive, and you are encouraged to submit your application early.  Places are limited.

2. You will be contacted within two weeks after application submission by the ISP Admission Committee with a decision.  If accepted, you will be directed to a SFU website for the payment of the program fees.

3. When the CCSMSC receives a notice of payment, you will receive a letter from the Director of the 2016 International Summer Program.  You will also be connected with 2016 class material, such a abstracts and readings.




Learning Outcomes of the Program

At a time when there is a heightened demand for information and interpretation about Muslims and their heritage, the International Summer Program provides an ideal opportunity to explore relevant subjects through the rigorous and unbiased approach of major scholars from a variety of disciplines.

  • Develop a critical-historical understanding of Muslim societies and cultures.
  • Appreciate the contested nature of concepts, interpretations, and practices.
  • Understand the formative context of Muslim civilization and its multiple influences.
  • Explore plural expressions of the history and religion of Muslims.
  • Deliberate the range of interpretations concerning knowledge.
  • Reflect on questions of authority, interpretation, and power.
  • Appreciate the panoply of artistic and literary expressions of Muslims.
  • Obtain timely skills related to contemporary debates concerning identity.
  • Consider complexity and diversity in issues of diaspora across disciplines.
  • Comprehend the diverse aspects of gender in Muslim contexts.
  • Ponder the contemporary challenges and future prospects of Muslims.
  • Understand the role of legal and mystical expressions of Islam in the past and present.


Duration and Venue

Expressions of Diversity is an annual program held for one or two weeks every summer since 2008. The location of this program alternates yearly between the Vancouver (Canada) campus of the Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures (Simon Fraser University) and London (UK) campus of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (Aga Khan University).  The 2016 International summer Program is scheduled for the Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University.

Who Should Attend?

Academics and educational administrators, teachers, graduate students, journalists, lawyers, NGO professionals, administrators in multicultural venues, business persons, medical personnel, politicians, interfaith participants, social support professionals, and those who work in multicultural settings or have an interest in Islamic or Muslim subjects.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older at the time of the Program.

Selected Quotations from Past Participants

“The course helped me grasp issues and sensitivities that I encounter in working with Muslim communities In a world that is polarized between the west and the east; the have and the have not; and the religious and the secular, programs like this help broaden the western media’s narrow depiction of Muslims.” Participant, ISP 2010.

 “When I arrived at the school, I had no idea that the lecturers would have been so passionate and exiting as they were; I was enthralled with every minute of each course. The summer program is a perfect mixture of learning and fun. I recommend it to anyone who loves to learn, meet new people and have memories they will cherish for the rest of their life.” Participant, ISP 2011.

 “Thank you so much for a life changing experience.  It was unbelievable to see top class scholars all on one platform.  I thoroughly enjoyed every second.”  Participant, ISP 2012.

"I enjoyed every minute, I learned so much about music, art and architecture in a short period.  The tutors are extremely knowledgeable and the programme is rich and varied.  I would recommend the course to those interested in studying Muslim culture." Participant, ISP 2013.

“The chai khana concept was great.  That kind of interaction between the presenters and the participants really created great chemistry.”  Participant, ISP 2014.

“The program was very usful, inclusive, and diversified, with varied instructions and multiple dimensions.  It is so good that AKU and SFU are doing this program.  Vital for understanding.” Participant, ISP 2014.

“The program combined speakers with knowledge and passion on a wide variety of topics—mysticism, law, architecture, gender, and contemporary developments.  It was a wonderful place to learn of Muslim diversity.” Participant ISP 2014.