Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

New Faculty Scholar Deepens Study of Islam, Judaism

Story posted August 29, 2008

Robert G. Morrison, an eminent scholar of Islamic studies, has joined Bowdoin's Department of Religion as Associate Professor of Religion, with tenure. Morrison comes to Bowdoin from Whitman College where he has taught a wide range of courses on Islam and Judaism since 2001.

Robert Morrison

Morrison's scholarship crosses a number of boundaries, such as science and religion, and Judaism and Islam, with a particular focus on early medieval Islamic science. He is the author of numerous articles, and recently published a book, Islam and Science: The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi (Routledge, 2007).

Morrison earned an A.M. and A.B. in the History of Science at Harvard, and a M. Phil and Ph.D. in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He has been a visiting fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad at the American University of Cairo, at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Fulbright Fellow in Egypt, among other prestigious grants and awards.

"We are incredibly lucky to have a scholar of Robert's range at the College," notes Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd. "He draws on a singular combination of linguistic, historical, and technical skills that together allow him to tackle some of the most difficult and interesting questions in the field. Additionally, his mastery of primary sources in both Arabic and Hebrew position him for uniquely comparative work, and will allow us to offer students a richer inquiry into the history of Islam and the history of Judaism."

For Fall 2008, Morrison will teach the course, Approaches to the Qur-an, which explores the foundational text of Islam.

Support for New Faculty

Support for new faculty is a key component of The Bowdoin Campaign, which ends in 2009. This will allow us to deepen and diversify several existing programs, stay competitive, and maintain the close student-faculty interactions that are a hallmark of a Bowdoin education.

"I'm really looking forward to joining a diverse group of scholars who are doing work that relates to my field and adds to the dialogue," says Morrison. "I'm sure students who take my classes will enjoy Bowdoin's new Arabic classes, or classes on historical perspectives or the contemporary Middle East. I really enjoy being at a liberal arts college because it's about the whole experience."

Morrison's addition to the College coincides with a series of upcoming academic discussions relating to his field of studies. "A Public Colloquium on Faith, Reason and Evolution" will take place over three successive Thursdays, beginning October 23, 2008. The colloquium will give a broad spectrum of scholars and theologians an opportunity to discuss the ongoing dialogue between science and religion.

"We have hoped for many years to find someone like Robert to anchor a series of courses focused on Islamic religious cultures," notes faculty colleague John Holt, Bowdoin's William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies. "A great bonus in his appointment is that he will also offer courses in areas of Judaic studies. These are areas of study that students from many departments have been eager to explore and it will add greatly to depth and dimension of the Bowdoin curriculum."

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