Wellesley College Visiting Professor Heads New Center
for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies

July 9, 2009
Molly Tarantino

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Bryan Turner, the Alona Evans Distinguished Visiting Professor at Wellesley College, will head a new, leading research center in Australia, set to explore the place of Muslim communities in society today.

Wellesley Visiting Professor Bryan Turner says the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies will "encourage greater intercultural harmony within Australia."

The University of Western Sydney (UWS) will officially open its Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies July 16. UWS, along with Griffith University and the University of Melbourne, will host the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies (NCEIS).

“The UWS Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies will add a new dimension to the research profile of NCEIS by deviating from the study of Islamic philosophy, the Koran and the hadith, and concentrating on the function and roles of contemporary Muslim communities,” said Turner, foundation director of the new center.
Muslim communities, like many other communities, make a major contribution to the richness and diversity of contemporary society, Turner said.

“The Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies will undertake research projects which look toward the future of multicultural Australia and the place of Muslim Australians within it,” he said. “By delving into this research area, the ultimate aim is to understand how Muslim culture and communities evolve over time and encourage greater intercultural harmony within Australia.”

Research endeavors will include the experiences of Muslim youth in education, work, politics and culture; the place of Muslim communities in multicultural societies; and the changing patterns of family life, including intergenerational relationships, marriage and children.  The center will take an international approach to the study of Muslim culture and societies by conducting comparative studies on Muslim communities in New York, London, Singapore and Sydney.

While at Wellesley, Turner has been in residence at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities, where his research has focused on the comparative sociology of secularism. In addition to his other roles, Turner is professor of social and political thought in the School of Humanities and Languages at UWS. He wrote his first book, Weber and Islam, in 1974 and has since established an international reputation for his work. He has served as dean of the faculty of arts at Deakin University; as professor of sociology at the University of Cambridge; and as a professor at the Asia Institute of the University of Singapore. In 2009, he will publish a new book, Muslims in Singapore.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.