HDS announces new assistant professor of science and religion

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Ahmed Ragab, physician, historian, and scholar of the medieval and modern Middle East, has been named the Richard T. Watson Assistant Professor of Science and Religion at Harvard Divinity School, effective July 1, 2011.

Ragab was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Divinity School for the 2009 fall semester, and since 2008 he has been a postdoctoral fellow then lecturer in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard. He holds a medical degree from Cairo University and a doctorate in the history of science from the Ecole Pratiques des Hautes Etudes in Paris.

“It is a pleasure and honor to join Harvard Divinity School and to be part of a long tradition of scholarship and a flourishing, ever-growing intellectual community,” Ragab said. “HDS has cultivated a solid tradition of diversity and serious critical scholarship, relying on a group of the most prominent scholars in their fields and a community of promising, dedicated students.”

Ragab’s work includes the history and development of medieval Islamic sciences, the relationship between science and religion in the medieval and modern Middle East, the history of medieval Islamic hospitals, and the intellectual and cultural history of women in the region.

His research and teaching show a combination of critical engagement with contemporary debates and a technically accomplished comparative range and historical depth. He has completed monographic studies of institutionalization and modernization in medieval and early modern science or medicine within Islamic cultures and he writes on contemporary questions at the foundations of science and religion.

“Before we undertook the Watson search, a group of faculty spent a year reflecting on current debates about science and religion,” said Mark D. Jordan, chair of the search committee and Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Divinity at HDS. “We wanted to compare the state of the field to our curriculum for preparing students, but we also wanted to see how HDS might help to advance some of those debates. We imagined that the ideal candidate would be creatively engaged with contemporary questions, but would also bring cross-cultural fluency, a commitment to religious comparison, and much historical depth. In Ahmed Ragab, we were delighted to find a candidate who answered all of our hopes.”

The professorship is funded by Richard T. Watson ’54, J.D. ’60, and is intended to advance research and thinking on the interrelations of science and religion via multidisciplinary and cross-faculty initiatives.