Peter Garry

Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe: Modern Challenges

Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter


George Orwell said, "It is only when you meet someone of a different culture from yourself that you begin to realise what your own beliefs really are." This notion of identity and the defining of one's identity in opposition to something else has always intrigued me.

Both travel and the completion of a Masters in German migrant poetry, further heightened my interest in identity and the relationship between religion and national identities. Geographically and politically, Europe has evolved considerably since the fall of the Berlin wall, however, our definition of what it means to be European seems to continually get smaller and consequently less inclusive and reflective of the population of modern day Europe.

While continuing to work on my PhD in Jewish Studies, the two online courses, Bridging the Great Divide: the Jewish-Muslim Encounter and Jews, Christians and Muslims in Europe: Modern Challenges, allowed me to successfully juggle my work and family life with further study in this area.

I found both courses to be highly organised, structured and informative. The weekly readings, short lectures and online blog posts are all structured to maximise the learning.

Furthermore, they ensure that the participants not only engage, but also remain engaged with the course material from the first week to the last.

Moreover, as the weekly readings are both relevant and pertinent, they gently nudge the student towards further study. The weekly support and feedback from lecturers prevent the learner from falling behind. Questions and issues are clarified very quickly.

Unlike previous courses I have completed online, I never felt that I was alone. From the beginning, I had the feeling that I was part of a vibrant and dynamic learning community.

An effective course, in my opinion, is one where students are not only taught, but also inspired to continue learning. It has to be said that studying online can often be difficult and lonely; however, the coordinated, structured and student friendly approach at the Woolf Institute ensures that students' questions are answered and interests piqued. I thoroughly recommend the courses.

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