Islam and society15.02.2022

1.3 million Swiss francs to promote «diversity and orientation»

The Mercator Foundation Switzerland is funding a new four-year project of the Schweizerisches Zentrum für Islam und Gesellschaft (Swiss centre for Islam and society SZIG) at the University of Fribourg. The project focuses on «diversity and orientation» and is dedicated to advancing scientific development of an inclusive understanding of Islam that takes into account matters important to both young Muslims and mainstream society in Switzerland.

In keeping with the profile of the SZIG, the project is designed to be participatory: stakeholders in the fields of education and spiritual care will be actively involved in the research process. In addition to scientific publications, findings will be accessible to broad target groups via workshops in the fields of practice and on a website. The project will transfer knowledge between the language regions and help to consolidate Islamic theological self-reflection within the university context. The dynamic research approach will contribute to a constructive understanding of diversity that does not exclude religion, but rather makes use of it as a contextual resource.

Valuable contribution to inclusive understanding of Islam
«The project’s scientific focus on diversity and orientation in its transdisciplinary structure will bring together the important perspectives and needs of young Muslims as well as mainstream society and will develop materials that can be used for dialogue and participation, thus making a valuable contribution to an inclusive understanding of Islam in Swiss society» said Annegret Reisner, President of the Board of Trustees of the Mercator Foundation Switzerland.  «The University of Fribourg is pleased about the partnership with the Mercator Foundation Switzerland and sees it as an important confirmation of the outstanding work that the SZIG does in forming a bridge between science and society» said Rector Astrid Epiney. The project funding totals 1.3 million Swiss francs.

Since 2016, the Mercator Foundation Switzerland has been one of the mainstays of the SZIG, together with the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the University of Fribourg. The SZIG’s doctoral programme «Islam and society: Islamic theological studies» has been funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland since 2016. The programme plans to produce seven dissertations, two of which have been completed so far. The doctoral programme’s final conference will take place in Zurich on 30/31 May.

Applied research and interdisciplinary approaches
The SZIG is an interfaculty institute of the faculties of theology, law and philosophy at the University of Fribourg. Its foundation stems from a multi-year discussion process at the federal level. The SZIG is dedicated to Islamic theological self-reflection in the context of current social topics. In addition to basic research, the SZIG is active in the field of applied research on topics such as Muslim pastoral care and imams. Since 2019, the SZIG has offered the interdisciplinary master’s programme «Islam and society». It is also responsible for continuing education courses on extremism and prevention as well as on Muslim pastoral care and works together with several cantons, federal offices and Muslim communities.