The McGill Centre for Islam and Science offers a unique opportunity for modern scientists, policy makers, educators, and Islamic Studies specialists to interact and formulate new and creative approaches to the vexing problems facing the development of science in modern Islamic societies.
Because of the previous achievements of scientists in the Islamic world, the past plays an important role in the worldview of modern Muslim scientists. But that past is most often framed in either glorified and exaggerated terms or else as an unfulfilled or failed version of “western” science. By providing modern scientists the opportunity to learn about Islamic intellectual history from experts in the field, a more realistic understanding can emerge, one that properly places Islamic science within both a historical and a religious context; the vision of the Centre is that this will help modern scientists appreciate both the limitations and opportunities those contexts provided. Science educators will learn of historical examples that could be integrated into modern textbooks in both the west and in Islamic countries, thereby undermining arguments that science is a solely “western phenomenon.” These educators will be able to interact with experts on education in premodern Islamic societies, providing examples of successful science education in the past. In the other direction, Islamic Studies students and scholars will be able to learn of the techniques and methodologies of modern scientists and educators, offering important points of comparison and contrast to historical studies of science and philosophy in Islam.