The CVSP-Forum is an event organized annually by the Civilization Studies Program to create venues for critical intellectual inquiry.
This year's forum is in the form of a workshop, and it discusses the concept of Civilization Studies. The Forum is organized as an exchange among professors from universities in the region that offer such programs, a conversation in which we can share ideas and experiences. Questions that will be dealt with include: What does it mean to teach these courses in the 21st century? Are these courses still important? Or have they actually become more important? What methods and formats serve our purposes best? How can we both support and rethink these courses?
Topics of discussion include the role of great books in our curricula and how to choose among them, issues of the "Canon", its construction and deconstruction, the implications of what can be considered a Eurocentric and Anglo-Saxon discourse, and divisions between high and popular cultures. Questions related to race, multiculturalism and area studies will be addressed. Other related issues will be discussed, including the objectives of cultural studies programs (what are we introducing students to and why?), the many ways of conceptualizing the relationship between culture and civilization, and whether and how theoretical approaches should be included in the classroom.
We will also discuss issues of location, what does it mean to teach these courses in Middle-Eastern Universities, which civilizations are left out and which ones are represented (and in what ways): Egyptian, African, Chinese, Indian, Iranian and the broad Arabic culture (Pre-modern, modern, and contemporary). We expect that this collaboration among the universities of our region will be in the interest of our programs and our universities as a whole, as well as an opportunity for a fruitful exchange of ideas, challenges and experiences.