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Online course for diplomats bridges perceptions between Islamic and Western worlds

Professor Maurits Berger is presenting an online course, starting on 6 November, on the images that Islam and the West hold of one another. The course will be useful for diplomats from Teheran to Islamabad.

In the course, Berger analyses the mechanisms by which mutual images of the Islamic and the Western worlds are formed, and their cause and effect on international policies. Course participants will be given assignments that will challenge them to reflect on their own situation and their field of work. Islamisation, democracy and human rights are among the issues that will be addressed in the course. 

A first

Since 2016, Berger – Professor of Islam and the West and Director of the Leiden Islam Academy – is responsible for the development of the Islam in the Modern World programme. The new online course is a first in the diplomatic world because it is not a standard ‘web lecture’, but rather a flexible interactive course with videos, podcasts and active assignments for participants to complete.

‘This online course introduces participants to the complex world of images that Muslims and the West have of one another,' Berger explains. 'The images that people hold have an enormous influence on international relations between these worlds, even more influence than a country's foreign policy.' 

Joining forces

Berger and a core group of Leiden academics are developing the content of the programme together with the Academy for International Relations of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in discussion with advisers such as the International Crisis Group and the Leiden Center for Professional Learning. The course is a distinctive initiative in which partners from the academic, diplomatic and non-profit worlds join forces.

The course is a co-creation with the Centre for Innovation, the University's innovation accelerator, that explores new technological trends in teaching, such as on-line courses (MOOCs, SPOCs). The power of online teaching has been specifically chosen for this course to create an international classroom and to make it possible to reach diplomats in such countries as Teheran, Islamabad and Ankara. Officials from the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Defence will be able to share a unique learning experience with colleagues throughout the world. The diplomatic service EEAS (European External Action Service) in Brussels is also interested in the programme. The idea is that in the future more components of the Islam in the Modern World programme will become available online. 

The Leiden Islam Academy (LIA) is part of Leiden University and combines teaching and research on Islam-related issues for students, professionals and other interested parties.
Further information about (online) courses.

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