Muslim Views


UCT Summer School 2021

UCT Summer School 2021
November 27, 2020
November 27, 2020 November 27, 2020

DR MEDEE RALL outlines the short courses across a range of disciplines on offer at the UCT Summer School 2021.

THE University of Cape Town’s annual Summer School, which will run from January 11 to 30, offers over ninety short courses across a range of disciplines.

It includes introductory language courses as well as creative writing and practical art.

Summer School 2021 will be delivered online, which means that participants can join this flagship programme from anywhere in the world.

Fees have been reduced to R75 per lecture – except for the practical writing, art and language courses – making the programme extremely affordable.

The programme offers a wide range of courses, with there being something for everyone to choose from. Importantly, there are no entrance requirements and no exams; this festival of learning is open to all.

Summer School 2021 responds to COVID-19 with courses on the pandemic’s effects on our sleep and health, lessons and insights learned by a doctor at the frontline, a deep reading of Camus’s The Plague, a look at parliamentary oversight during lockdown, as well as an exploration of viruses and epidemics in history and the particular threat of COVID-19 to South Africa’s fragile democracy and social welfare safety net.

Current political issues are a feature of the programme: threats to democracy posed by the EFF, the return of racial science, state capture and the media, illicit trade, the future of the European Union, decolonising the social sciences, the outlook for the 2021 municipal elections, and the ANC’s journey from founding aims to foundering.

Science offerings include the Chernobyl disaster, forensic science, the gut as the second brain, the problem of consciousness and breakthroughs provided by Moros Intrepidus and imaging black holes.

In the category Arts and Humanities, Summer School 2021 covers everything from the very ancient (St Thomas Backet, Rome, Greek art) to modern studies on Alfred Hitchcock, art novels, little-known books, Tolkien, J M Coetzee, and African literature.

History buffs can choose from courses on Hitler, the German predicament, Jan Smuts, Churchill’s South Africa, Burchell, Lady Anne Barnard, the Anglo-Boer War and the early mapping of the Cape.

Although most lectures will be delivered at a scheduled time of the day, some courses offer flexible hours in which the material can be studied.

Most courses will be offered on the Microsoft Teams platform. Participants will be sent a link to the courses they register for.

Summer School is run by the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Extra-Mural Studies (email: [email protected] telephone number: 021 650 2634).

Booking is on Webtickets. You can browse by date on Webtickets or by your favourite discipline in our brochure, which can be accessed here:

Islam and science courses at UCT Summer School

AS part of the 2021 Summer School programme, Emeritus Professor Anwar Suleman Mall will present two courses, one in which he will discuss Islam and science, which is outlined below.

In 2006, the prestigious scientific journal Nature published four articles in a news feature column on the state of science in the Islamic world, with a focus on the ‘oil rich’ Middle East. These reports and subsequent ones raised concern regarding the ‘scant support for science and technology’ in the Arab states.

Mindful of the words of the physicist Jim Al-Khalili, that Western cultural and scientific thought is indebted to the work, more than a thousand years ago, of ‘The Golden Age of Arabic Science’, this course is designed to chart the history and analyse the reasons for the decline of science in the Muslim world over centuries up to very recent times.

The final lecture will show that there seems to be some reason for optimism from the late twentieth century onwards.

Lecture titles

  1. Introduction: a historical background to Islam
  2. Early history of scientific thought in the Arab world
  3. Some scientific personalities in the Arab Golden Age of Science
  4. What modern historians and academics have to say
  5. The New Islamic Enlightenment and concluding remarks

This course will be offered on the Microsoft Teams platform. Participants will be sent a link. (For details see main article)

Recommended reading

Al-Khalili, J 2010. Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science. London: Penguin Books.

Ansary, M T 2010. Destiny Disrupted: a History of the World through Islamic Eyes. New York: PublicAffairs.

de Bellaigue, C 2017. The Islamic Enlightenment. The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason. New York: Penguin Random House.

Hoodbhoy, P 1992. Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: S. Abdul Majeed and Company.

Armstrong, K I 2000. Islam, A Short History. Burlington, Vermont: Phoenix Books

  • Dr Medee Rall is Director: Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, University of Cape Town

This article was first published in the November 2020 print edition of Muslim Views.

At the UCT Summer School 2020Featured image: Chatting between lectures at the 2020 University of Cape Town Summer School. The 2021 Summer School courses will be delivered online. (Photo CENTRE FOR EXTRA-MURAL STUDIES)

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