Wekalet Behna

Science in the Middle East: A Socio-historical Perspective – العلوم في الشرق اﻷوسط: نظرة تاريخية

Never has a vaccine ever been developed as fast as the COVID-19 vaccines have recently been. Ironically, only what can match this unprecedented scientific breakthrough is the unprecedented hesitancy and rejection that the vaccines were met with in different countries, most notably the United States. It is crises like this pandemic that highlight the woes of a humanity already unable to tackle an even more ominous crisis such as climate change due to many of the very reasons public health measures and vaccination have recently become divisive
For science to cause or intensify polarization is neither new nor characteristic of a particular culture. However, it is more challenging to approach science from the viewpoint of social sciences where there seems to be a gap between science and society. Such gap in most Middle Eastern countries is best reflected in both poor science education and lagging scientific research. It is crucial to examine the aspects of the interplay between science and different structures and arrangements in the region over decades and centuries to understand the current moment
This course explores the history of science and more generally knowledge in the Middle East from the Golden Age of Islam to the modern era. The approach to this history is mainly sociological but intersects with philosophy and discourse analysis. A main concern of the course is to understand why modern science emerged in the west and not in the region, although it had witnessed a robust scientific activity from the eighth century to the fourteenth century. Students will explore not only what challenges existing institutions found science to pose but also how they reacted. Intellectual orthodoxies and how they interacted with science will be studied as well as how they have evolved as a result. Another central emphasis is how major discourses absorbed science, and were influenced themselves through processes of negotiating meanings and re-contextualizing scientific concepts and theories
Omar Salama holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Alexandria University. He completed the 2018/2019 CILAS year-long program in liberal arts in Alexandria. He taught mathematics and science in Egypt and abroad. If there is one thing Omar best personifies, it is curiosity. He is always interested in learning new things and meeting new people. His ever-growing range of interests include science, art and humanities
Introducing CILAS-Alex
The Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Alexandria (CILAS-Alex.) invites students from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to engage with liberal arts through a pedagogy of discovery. CILAS-Alex. hosts a dynamic, discussion-based learning environment conducive to creative inquiry, self-reflection, and civic engagement. Co-creation of knowledge at CILAS-Alex. is fostered through classroom discussion and debate, workshops, musical performances, guest lectures, field visits, cooking, laughing and listening