SOASCIS – OXFORD UNIVERSITY WORKSHOP
A team from the SOASCIS joined other scholars from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and the United Kingdom for a two-day workshop at the St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford on 26th and 27th February.
This was a collaborative workshop with: The Middle East Centre [MEC] and the Asian Studies Centre [ASC], St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford; and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies [OCIS], Oxford.
The theme of the workshop was: ‘Contemporary Challenges to Inter- Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue in South East Asia: Cross-Cultural Perspectives’.
The team from the SOASCIS comprised: Professor Datuk Dr. Osman Bakar, the Director, SOASCIS; Associate Professor Dr. Azman Bin Ahmad, the Assistant Vice Chancellor [Academic], Universiti Brunei Darussalam; Pg. Dr. Norhazlin Pg. Hj. Muhammad, the Deputy Director, SOASCIS; and Associate Professor Dr. Jabal M. Buaben, Programme Leader for Graduate Studies, SOASCIS.
The main rationale for the workshop was to assemble a crop of scholars with expertise on Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue to explore issues relevant to the region. This would then be an initial forum for better collaboration in research in the field. It was also meant to be a forum to share ideas on the theme looking forward for possible lessons that other regions around Asia and Europe could benefit from.
Papers Presented: The titles of papers presented by the SOASCIS/UBD team were: Professor Datuk Dr. Osman Bakar: Southeast Asian Muslims and Interreligious Dialogue in the Post-Colonial Era: An Overview
Associate Professor Azman Bin Ahmad: Brunei Darussalam as a Model of Multi-Religious Society in South East Asia.
Pg. Dr. Norhazlin Pg. Hj. Muhammad: Religion and Secularism: Education in Brunei Darussalam in the Light of the Philosophy of Malay Islamic Monarchy.
Other Meetings: There were other meetings held with various individuals to discuss issues regarding collaboration in research activities. The most important of these was held with key representatives of the St. Antony’s College, The Middle East Centre [MEC] and the Asian Studies Centre [ASC] all in Oxford University, and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies [OCIS], Oxford. This was basically to think of the possibilities for further collaborative activities. Matters raised included: [a] Possibility of Graduate Students from the Institutions working together through workshops and exchanges; [b]Possibility of SOASCIS / UBD helping to fill in a gap in expertise of the South East Asian region at the Asian Studies Centre; [c] Possibility of creating a Fellowship jointly with part-University and part –external funding, for example, jointly with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies; [d] Possible creation of Visiting Fellowships as such models already exist in the St. Antony’s College and SOASCIS; [e]Possibility of Informal or Formal co-supervision of research students between SOASCIS and the Middle East Centre / the Asian Study Centre; [e] In relation to Area/Regional Studies Research Scheme, the prospect, in the future, of having a Fellowship in ASEAN Studies focusing on Brunei Darussalam as a Centre and Leader in the Region.
The Next Step: It was agreed in principle that these matters are to be discussed further and be taken step-by-step. Hence, a second workshop is to be convened in 2015 to follow directly on from this initial broad workshop theme, or to focus on a specific theme developed from the discussions during this workshop.
Overall, it was a very fruitful workshop and we are looking forward to the next one.
Prepared by: AP Dr Jabal Buaben