NISIS is a collaborative association of nine universities in the Netherlands constituting a national research school in the field of the study of Islam and Muslim societies.
The aims of NISIS are:
1. Cooperation on a national basis
2. Joining various disciplines
3. Educating new generations of PhD candidates and research master students
4. International outreach
5. Public outreach
The main aim of NISIS is to advance cooperation between the nine participating universities. By bringing together the academic expertise of Dutch scholars in the field of Islam and Muslim societies, NISIS offers both junior and senior researchers a forum for interdisciplinary research collaboration and national and international networking opportunities which simultaneously benefits the training of PhD candidates and research master students. Against this background, NISIS is committed to promoting interuniversity and international cooperation, for instance by organising annual Spring and Autumn Schools, each time at another Dutch university, on prominent themes pertaining to Islamic studies, which have attracted both national and international researchers.
Another important aim of NISIS is to bring together various disciplines related to the study of Islam and Muslim societies. Scholars of several disciplines have dedicated themselves to the formation of the school, which covers a broad multidisciplinary research area.
Historically, Islam and Muslim societies have been studied from a classical humanities point of view, studying languages and the rich corpus of written sources in fields such as history, philology, Islamic theology, and Islamic law. Since the late 1970s however, critical reflection on the history and practices of the academic study of Islam and Muslim societies has become increasingly important. This critical turn has strengthened an understanding of Islam as a social practice, and paved the way for the social science approach to the field, which engages in empirical research and fieldwork. NISIS is dedicated to combining and joining both approaches, so that they can enhance each other and, as such, provide a comprehensive understanding of Islam and Muslim societies, actively looking for new directions in order to overcome misleading oppositions between approaches.
One of the primary aims of NISIS is to educate new generations of scholars in the field of Islam and Muslim societies. Since its founding, NISIS has therefore made available 70% of its total resources for 12 PhD candidates to pursue their PhD projects under the supervision of NISIS board members
In addition, NISIS has developed a high-quality training programme in the field of Islamic studies. This programme, with which NISIS contributes to successful completion of individual research master and dissertation projects, consists of a yearly Spring School abroad, a yearly Autumn School in the Netherlands, a yearly Islamic Studies Network Day in the Netherlands, and additional courses offered by the participating universities.
As a national platform for Islamic studies, NISIS aims at strengthening the international outreach of Dutch expertise on Islam and Muslim societies. To further the international profile of Dutch scholarship on Islamic studies, the policy of NISIS has focused on the mutual reinforcing effect of attracting Dutch junior and senior researchers to participate in the Spring Schools abroad, and to invite various renowned international speakers and junior researchers from abroad to participate in the yearly Autumn School in the Netherlands. This has resulted in a considerable strengthening of the international profile of Dutch scholarship, and enlargement of individual and institutional networks.
In an era in which Islam and Muslims dominate the public and political debate and media coverage, NISIS strives to act as a knowledge broker for the field by disseminating reliable knowledge suitable for application in society at large, while complying with academic standards.
NISIS has become a significant national institution for expertise and has increased the public visibility of Dutch scholarship by presenting current academic research, either through the public keynote lectures during the Autumn Schools, or via its website, to a broader audience. The NISIS website provides an overview of:
- researchers and their expertises affiliated to the nine universities participating in NISIS (research portal);
- available bachelor and master courses about Islam and Muslim societies offered at the nine participating universities in the Netherlands (education portal);
- recent PhD dissertations completed at one of the nine participating universities of NISIS in the field of Islam and Muslim societies (dissertation portal).