Professor Jamil Ragep, Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies
Professor Jamil Ragep, Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies

Keeping cultures strong

A world-class university is nothing if not an incubator of ideas and a place for meaningful exchanges. Over the course of Campaign McGill, transformative gifts to two prominent areas of study have enabled McGill to broaden the scope of its cultural discourse.

 In 2012, the State of Qatar donated $1.25 million to the Institute of Islamic Studies to mark the Institute’s 60th anniversary. And as it approached its 45th anniversary, the Department of Jewish Studies received a landmark $1 million from the estate of Simon and Ethel Flegg, a gift that reflects their belief in Jewish learning.

Like the Fleggs, Eric Caplan, McGill’s Chair of Jewish Studies, believes that education allows Jews and non-Jews of varying ideologies to better understand one another’s perspectives. “Learning experiences of this sort reveal that differences among Jews are not as far reaching as they may seem at first blush,” he says.

Similarly, since its founding in 1952, the Institute of Islamic Studies has strived to involve Muslims and non-Muslims in the study of Islamic civilization, a fact that was not lost on His Excellency Salem Al-Shafi, Qatar’s first ambassador to Canada. The State’s gift funded a series of conferences, exhibits and lectures in honour of the Institute’s milestone birthday.

“We believe the Institute shares our vision that knowledge and education are key to meeting the challenges of our changing world and providing the tools to better understand the ever-evolving relationship between religion and mankind and how it has contributed to our well-being and the coexistence of peoples,” His Excellency Al-Shafi says.