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


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2018 Fellowship Retreat

The 2018 Retreat


The Gingko Fellowship Programme started as a partnership between former HM Ambassador Casson, Gingko, and Dr James Walters of the LSE Faith Centre. It was established to complement the existing Al-Azhar UK Scholarship Programme.

The Gingko Fellowship Programme was launched in April 2018 at a retreat that brought together 18 fellows for three days of discussion and workshops at Carberry Tower outside Edinburgh. Nine Egyptian students — all of whom are studying for MAs and PhDs in the UK as a part of HM Ambassador John Casson’s UK-Al Azhar Scholarship programme — took part.

The retreat offered a combination of academic workshops, activities and lectures to encourage interfaith dialogue and friendships between young Christian and Muslim scholars. Formal sessions were combined with informal discussion and recreational activities. The formal sessions, facilitated by Dr James Walters, Director of the LSE Faith Centre, and Asim Hafiz, Imam to the British Armed Forces, explored leadership in the Christian and Muslim traditions; challenges for leadership (women, populism and intergenerational challenges); challenges in Muslim-Christian Relations (delivered by Dr Joshua Ralston, University of Edinburgh), and scholarship resourcing transformation (how does scholarship effect change in the public sphere).


Comments from participants of the 2018 retreat:

‘I really enjoyed this retreat. The dialogue has been helpful for me, as has meeting people from different faiths. I have heard many different perspectives, all of which I believe will shape my future.’
-Mohammed Aldhfar, PhD candidate at University of Nottingham

‘This event was absolutely fascinating; I have learned so many things. I had great religious conversations with a large number of people. The challenge was that I have too many essays to write, but I don’t regret being here with such great scholars.’
-Rawdah Fawzy, Al-Azhar scholar, MA in Christian Theology at Kings College London

‘My experience has been tremendous. The workshops have been constructive and enlightening, my conversations with colleagues have been stimulating and warm. I’m thrilled to have been permitted to participate and am hopeful of the friendships and future collaborations that will emerge from this week!’
-Trevor Laurence, PhD candidate at University of Exeter

Click here to read an article about the experiences of one of the 2018 Fellowship participants (via the LSE Faith Centre blog).

HM Ambassador John Casson (left) and Mohammad Gamal Moawad Abdelnour Metawea (right)