Understanding Islamist Movements: Historical Roots and Current Realities
This course asks how we should understand the various political movements that claim to act in the name of Islam. What do the Islamic State and the various affiliates of al-Qaeda in the Middle East have in common with each other, or with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, among others? What distinguishes these movements from the Taliban in Afghanistan or Boko Haram in West Africa? Why do some of these groups act or inspire others to carry out attacks in Europe and North America? To what extent can they be explained in political terms, and what exactly is the role of religion? How do they compare with non-Islamic terrorist or revolutionary movements?
This course will address these and other questions by going beyond the conventional geopolitical and Western journalistic perspectives. We will examine the historical roots of political Islam, trace the origins of the movement known as Salafism and the changing uses of the term jihad. We will also look in depth at the discussions that Islamists have amongst themselves, how they see themselves and what they stand for. We will look at the jihadist poetry and the religious debates they conduct between themselves, as well as ask how people in the affected regions, especially writers and intellectuals, view the movements. Finally, there will be sessions addressing practical questions, such as how do Islamist groups acquire their weapons, and how does the global oil market affect Islamism?
Interdisciplinary by its very nature, the course is taught by distinguished faculty in a variety of fields from Europe and the United States, as well as experts from the international community in Geneva.
The course will treat the following topics, among others:
The origins and nature of Salafism
The changing uses of the term “jihad.”
Arab intellectuals’ views on religion and Islamic movements
The Iranian Revolution and its legacy
The View from Moscow: Russia and Islam; Russia and the Middle East
The poetry of the Islamic State; How do jihadists represent themselves?
Arms and ammunition: How do groups get their weapons?
Geneva has long been one of the world’s capitals of international law and the headquarters of international institutions dedicated to human rights. This inspiring context naturally has led to one of the core strengths of the University of Geneva to be within the domain of international human rights laws and policies.
The Summer School ‘Children at the Heart of Human Rights’ is a unique opportunity for students and young professionals to engage with leading experts in a dynamic scientific interdisciplinary environment. It is the perfect academic and professional preparation experience for those students interested in children’s rights and international human rights organizations.
The course is shaped to bring out the best of current issues in the international debate on children’s rights studies and policies. It will examine these issues with an interdisciplinary perspective and investigate different international legal instruments such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights treaties and standard-setting instruments. This programme is characterized by a deep dive into the following :
the interplay between theory and practice in the field of children's rights,
the international perspective promoted by the lecturers from different regions of the world,
field visits to several UN Agencies, international humanitarian organisations and NGOs, located in Geneva
The blending of all these features will favour a vibrant, challenging and fruitful interactive learning atmosphere.
Equivalence of 4 ECTS
Please note: Changes to the draft program may be made at any time prior to the start of the course.
This summer school provides participants with an understanding of the main stakes and questions in humanitarian action and contributes to building critical thinking.
The first week introduces the main concepts of humanitarian aid – including elements that should be considered (or not) when defining humanitarian action – and presents the humanitarian principles and framework in which assistance activities take place. Besides history, law and geopolitics of humanitarian action, we also analyse the context and the characteristics of humanitarian crises and the various types of responses.
Through case studies from contexts such as Philippines, Syria, Haiti or Afghanistan, the main operational challenges faced by international and national organisations will be identified during the second week. Finally, working on a concrete scenario during two days, participants will partially experience the tasks undertaken by humanitarian workers and get the opportunity to practically apply their newly acquired knowledge.
Overall, the three weeks allow participants to capture the complexity and diversity of humanitarian action.
Assessments are based on active participation and an assignment carried out during the two days. Upon successful completion of the course, participants are evaluated based on a group presentation on the last days of the two-weeks summer school (equivalence of 4 ECTS). Students wanting to acquire 6 ECTS have the opportunity to do so on the basis of a satisfactory take-home paper, to be written within a week after the end of the summer school.