Lucy Schouten Awarded Innovation Initiative Grant

Our student Lucy Schouten was awarded an Innovation Initiative Grant to conduct fieldwork on Christian-Muslim engagement in Jordan. She tells us about getting the grant and the upcoming project:

I have been awarded an Innovation Initiative Grant to conduct fieldwork on Christian-Muslim engagement in Jordan. Both my Masters dissertation and prospective PhD focus on Christian-Muslim relations in the Arab world.  

I am the Project Coordinator for the recently launched Global Network for Christian-Muslim Studies. I spend much of my time studying the richness of Arab Christianity. In order to really understand the complexity of the situation, however, I need to learn from the people who are living it. The grant will fund my travel. 

I have been hoping to return to Jordan since I finished my Arabic studies there in 2012. My time Jordan left me with so many questions about Arab-Christian theology and Christian history in the Holy Land. This funding will enable me to meet with the people and increase my understanding in a way that I cannot do remotely.

Applying for this grant reminded me of how much I enjoy this field and how important it is for me to effectively communicate its importance to others. Although few people are aware of Christian-Muslim relations in the Arab world, I believe that interfaith engagement has shaped global politics in the last decade. My approach to this topic is unique in that I am looking to the Middle East for solutions, rather than problems, and I think this will help with understanding its complexities. 

Part of the Innovation Initiative Grant's purpose is to share the results of the project. I will present my findings in several interfaith settings here in Edinburgh. My basic premise is that in order to improve interfaith relations between the world's two largest faiths, people need examples of positive engagement between Christians and Muslims that neither overlook nor exacerbate their differences and similarities

I believe that Jordan can provide such examples, but it is usually overlooked both by researchers and journalists. My time in Jordan will enable me to test and develop the conclusions I have reached during my scholarly research at New College, and it will also provide details, examples, and new insights for my follow-up presentations.