Science, Rationalism and Academic Freedom in the Arab World: a Personal and Historical Perspective

 Supported by The Royal Society and The British Academy 

The Wellcome Trust Hall, The Royal Society
Thursday 7 November 2013, 19h00-22h00

CARA (the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics) launched the ‘Science and Civilisation’ lecture series to commemorate Albert Einstein's Royal Albert Hall speech on the 5th October 1933 against the persecution of academics. The event marked CARA’s (then the Academic Assistance Council, AAC) first public meeting in support of persecuted academics. Einstein encouraged nations to “resist the powers which threaten to suppress intellectual and individual freedom” and stated that “without such freedom there would have been no Shakespeare, no Goethe, no Newton, no Faraday, no Pasteur and no Lister”. 

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE will be giving a personal and historical perspective on ‘Science, Rationalism and Academic Freedom in the Arab World’, drawing on his experience of growing up in Iraq before leaving to settle in the UK to escape the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his more recent academic interest in the scientific achievements of the medieval Islamic Empire – a time of rationalism and freedom of thought that remains illusive in many parts of the Arab World today.

The lecture was followed by a reception at The British Academy at 8.15pm.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE

Professor Al-Khalili is an Iraqi-born British professor of physics, author and broadcaster based at the University of Surrey where he also holds a chair in the Public Engagement in Science. He is active as a science communicator and has written a number of popular science books, between them translated into over twenty languages. He is a regular presenter of TV science documentaries, including the Bafta nominated Chemistry: A Volatile History, and presents the weekly Radio 4 programme, The Life Scientific. He is a recipient of the Royal Society Michael Faraday medal and the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal and is the current president of the British Humanist Association.


'Science & Civilisation': Science, Rationalism and Academic Freedom in the Arab World by Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE from CARA on Vimeo.