Working to improve mutual understanding between the Middle East and the West


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Interfaith Fellowship

The centrepiece of Gingko’s programme of encounters is the Gingko Interfaith Fellowship, which brings together early-career scholars of religion from MENA and the West to learn from each other and form lasting bonds of respect and friendship.

The Fellowship brings together scholars of religion from MENA and the West. Its main activity is a series of annual retreats, held on alternate years in MENA and the West. The retreats provide an opportunity for these emerging theologians and community leaders to deepen their understanding of each other’s faiths, to get to know each other and to make friends.

“Gingko hopes this Fellowship will deepen the awareness and sophistication of emerging faith leaders and build cultural bridges as well as sustainable bonds of friendship.”
–Dr Barbara Haus Schwepcke, CEO, Gingko

The Fellowship consists of around 20 Fellows at any one time, with roughly equal numbers from MENA and the West. Fellows are typically early-career scholars of one of the faiths of the MENA region. Some will be planning a career in academia or as a faith leader; others want to serve their communities in other ways.

Every Fellow commits to attending two retreats. Gingko covers all costs of the Retreats. In addition, Fellows have exclusive access to the Fellowship Collaboration Prize and receive special consideration for Gingko’s grants. Over time, the bonds formed through the Fellowship will become a mutual support network and source of collaborations which have a positive impact across communities.

You can learn more about how to apply to the Fellowship here.

Gingko hopes that the Fellowship will equip a new generation of leaders with confident and credible religious voices, voices stronger than those calling for mistrust and hatred.


How the Fellowship began

The Gingko Interfaith Fellowship was established in 2018 alongside the al-Azhar UK Scholarship scheme, which funds students from al-Azhar to carry out post-graduate study in the UK. By introducing these scholars from al-Azhar to their peers in UK and other European universities, the Fellowship aimed to give them a support network and to overcome the isolation often felt by research students.

“I look forward to this project being the way to wider academic cooperation with British universities, which will achieve Al-Azhar’s global mission in supporting peace and coexistence among nations. […] The cooperation between Al-Azhar and European Universities and research centres is the way to contain radicalism and terrorism, and to propagate the values of human comradeship and global fellowship.”
–Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb

Since 2018, the Fellowship has grown and evolved. It has benefited over 40 Fellows and held five annual retreats in Cairo and the UK. It still includes many students from al-Azhar but now also welcomes applicants from elsewhere in MENA. Through the Collaboration Prize, it has supported several innovative interfaith research projects. Former Fellows maintain friendships and suggest collaborations.