Monday, April 30, 2007

ESC Lille to open Gulf Campus & offer Islamic finance courses program in GCC and France

After ESC Lille announced they would offer Islamic finance courses in Paris and the Gulf, Dr. Christophe Bredillet took the time to answer a few of my follow-up questions.

Blake Goud: When will ESC Lille begin to offer Islamic finance education in Paris and the Gulf?

Dr. Christophe Bredillet: “We will offer our first session in August during our International Project & Programme Management Workshop (August 20 to 24). Then this will become a regular joint seminar between our MSc in Project & Programme Management and our MBA the coming academic year 2007-2008.”

Blake Goud: Where will the professors in the Islamic finance program be recruited? Will they be academics, Islamic finance professionals or scholars and what types of courses will be offered?

Dr. Christophe Bredillet: “They will be professionals and experts. We will make the most of our existing network and will further reinforce it through new local/regional (Gulf countries) and international links, inviting experts who are working for these institutions in France as well.”

Blake Goud: Will the Islamic finance education program in Paris be focused on training professionals to expand the provision of Islamic financial services within France (or Europe) or do you expect the professionals to finish the course and then work for Islamic financial institutions outside of France (or Europe)?

Dr. Christophe Bredillet: “I would say both. As it is a starting initiative, I would say we will adapt the first courses to the demand (it is an heuristic process). The assumption is that Islamic finance will have a greater impact in Europe and other “Westernized countries as well in the near future, due to the investment flows and market demand. This seminar will be offered to our students and we don’t expect at this stage to run short courses open courses.”

Blake Goud: Tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims within Europe are a frequent subject in the media. Do you believe that providing Islamic finance education and making Islamic finance more prevalent within Europe will help ease these tensions or will it contribute to more separation between Muslims and non-Muslims?

Dr. Christophe Bredillet: “As far as ESC Lille is concerned we are training global professionals and experts. The bottom line is that these professionals must have an open mind, and global doesn’t mean “Western”, but it is much more about understanding various traditions and cultures and accepting them, instead of trying to promote a unique “truth” or “ethic” or “moral”… We have been working with “Islamic” countries for more than 15 years, and we have, I think, a good capacity in adapting what we are doing to meet different traditions (this is the same for other regions like India, China, Africa, South America…). In the Middle Ages, Christians and Muslims were at war (Crusades) but in the meantime it was a very rich time for exchanges between them at Artistic and Scientific levels. Our view is to help and facilitate - very humbly - at our level, this mutual enrichment through proper education process.”

Blake Goud: The Financial Times reported that graduates from conventional economics, business and MBA programs have experienced difficulties becoming successful in Islamic banks because of the requirement of learning about the Shari'ah. What challenges do you see to integrating Islamic finance into a conventional MBA program and how will ESC attempt to deal with this? In particular, will there be courses on Islamic economic and financial jurisprudence?

Dr. Christophe Bredillet: “We do think that we will need to support this with seminars. It is very difficult to run business courses addressing Japan without any knowledge of Japanese tradition for instance. Tradition is the underlying support to culture, life style, behaviours, ethical issues and so on… It is not just about training people on “techniques” - we hope to contribute to the development of a good level of understanding of the fundamental roots of these aspects, in order to move beyond the classical multicultural seminars where people learn “artificial” and “simplistic” tricks and staying at a very superficial level (e.g. dos and don’ts).”

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