On 22 November; Deakin University and Australian Intercultural Society launched a new research chair.
The Australian Intercultural Society in its continuing its support of academia as a peacebuilding initiative contributed to the endowment of a research chair at Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.
The Fethullah Gulen Chair of Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue will be presided over by Professor Ihsan Yilmaz; previously the Professor of Political Science at Fatih University (Turkey); lecturer at the University of London and research scholar at the University of Oxford.
Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri welcomed his new colleague to the cadre of researchers at the institute.
Attending the launch was President of the Rumi Forum in Washington D.C. Emre Celik; who read a statement from the Rumi Forum’s honorary president; Fethullah Gulen; after whom the chair is named.
”The establishment of this chair comes at a critical time when ignorance-based fear and failure to engage in self-reflection and criticism are contributing to hostility and violent conflicts around the world.
”By establishing this chair in the study of Islamic Studies and Intercultural Dialogue; Deakin University leadership has expressed its commitment to nurture open and inclusive minds through knowledge.
”I thank the leaders of Deakin University and Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation for their contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the service of humanity.””
The endowed Chair reflects the growing strategic partnership between Deakin University; the Australian Intercultural Society and the Selimiye Foundation.
Vice- Chancellor of Deakin University Professor Jane den Hollander spoke of Deakin’s commitment to promoting a harmonious multicultural society and realising the benefits of connection and the exchange of ideas; adding that it was ”impossible to overstate the importance of intercultural dialogue today””.
Professor Ihsan Yilmaz explained that the Chair would tackle the vicious cycles of misunderstanding through the study of critical areas.
”The Chair will seek to provide academic and research leadership in Islamic studies; sociology; politics and political economy of Islam and the Muslim world; interfaith and intercultural studies and cultural diversity and immigration studies;”” he said.
He thanked his new colleagues Professor Fethi Mansouri and Professor Greg Barton for encouraging him to take up this new role.
Sticking to the interfaith traditions of AIS events; Emeritus Professor Gary Bouma and Professor Ori Soltes were invited to address Professor Yilmaz.
”You have many challenges ahead as you are in special position as an academic of faith in a secular university. You will be expected to perform at higher standards; but I am happy for you;”” said Emeritus Professor Bouma.
”Remember; anytime your students think they know what the truth is; they’re in trouble so keep pushing them”” added Prof Soltes.
We were honoured by the presence of Professor the Hon David De Krester; former Governor of Victoria and AIS Advisory Board member.
At the end of the evening; AIS Director Ahmet Keskin Executive gave the vote of thanks followed by an exchange of gifts.