Most Islamic countries languish at the bottom of global science rankings; their scientific output falls behind even the poorest African countries and the number of researchers per capita remains significantly lower than the USA or Europe. Yet science wasn’t always so neglected. In the Golden Age of Arabic science, between the 8th and 15th centuries, the work of Muslim scientists in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine paved the way for the European renaissance. So what explains the modern-day dearth of knowledge and expertise in Islamic countries?
Contrary to popular assumption that science and rational thinking is hampered by the theological strictures of Islam, in this talk, Priya Shetty argues that religion has very little to do with the poor scientific performance of Islamic countries. She explores political, socioeconomic, and cultural factors, to show how science and Islam co-exist quite easily, and describes the scientific renaissance that many Islamic countries are currently pursuing. A science journalist for 15 years, Priya Shetty has researched science and technology capacity in Indonesia, as part of the Royal Society’s project to map science capacity in Islamic countries, and will present some of her findings from Indonesia in this talk.
A Brighton-based science journalist who has worked at New Scientist and The Lancet, and writes for the BBC, The Guardian, and Nature, Priya focuses on the intersection of science and society, and has written about sexism in science, abortion rights, and access to medicines.