The Gingko Fellowship Programme

The Gingko Fellowship Programme is a series of annual retreats that bring together students from Al-Azhar University in Cairo with their peers from universities in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America. Funded and organised by Gingko, the Programme was first established in 2018 to complement the existing Al-Azhar UK Scholarship Programme.

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

By introducing these scholars to the wider academic community and by building a mutual support network the Fellowship Programme aims to help them overcome the isolation often experienced by research students. Likewise, meeting the Al-Azhar scholars at the retreats offers emerging Christian theologians and leaders an opportunity to deepen their awareness and understanding of Islamic narratives. The hope is that lasting bonds of friendship and respect will be formed, bridging cultural divides and equipping a new generation of leaders with confident and credible religious voices; voices stronger than those calling for hatred and violence.


How it works

Each year a selection of new Fellows join the Programme. They are nominated either by existing Fellows or are proposed by heads of relevant departments at universities in the UK, Europe and North America. Applications to join the Fellowship can also be made directly to Gingko.

Each Fellow attends a maximum of two retreats, one held in Egypt and the other in the UK, Europe or North America. The Fellows also take part in convivia which keep the spirit of the Fellowship alive between retreats. The hope is that long-lasting bonds of friendship will be formed and that in future they will join their successors in the Fellowship Programme at alumni events.


Why now?

“Religious ideas are reshaping our world, now more than ever we need strong and respected Islamic institutions like Al-Azhar. I’m proud that the UK plays a role with Al-Azhar to raise up a new generation of leaders who will deepen our understanding of Islam, reject extremism and prejudice, instead promoting the values of peace, openness and tolerance.”
–Former HM Ambassador John Casson

“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 Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb

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