Robert Morrison gave the George Lincoln Skolfield Jr. Inaugural Lecture at Bowdoin on October 16. Morrison is a teacher of Islamic and Judaic studies whose research lies at the intersection of the history of science and the study of religion. His first book, Islam and Science: The Intellectual Career of Nizam al-Din al-Nisaburi received a World Book Prize from the Islamic Republic of Iran and addressed the question, ‘what is Islamic about Islamic science’. His recent book, The Light of the World: Astronomy in al-Andalus, examines a type of astronomy that attempted to resolve a debate about the competing truth claims of scripture, natural philosophy, and mathematics.
Currently chair of Bowdoin’s department of religion, Morrison is a co-editor of the journal Oriens and was recently elected president of the Commission for the History of Science and Technology in Islamic Societies, the largest international organization for the study of Islamic science.
Born in 1890 and raised in Brunswick, George L. Skolfield Jr. was a graduate of the Bowdoin Class of 1913 who distinguished himself as an athlete. Funds for the George Lincoln Skolfied Jr. professorship were provided by the trust of his aunt, Mrs. Lydia Skolfield Turner, who sought to perpetuate the memory of the Skolfield family as embodied in her nephew. The bequest did not specify the discipline to be served by the chair. Thus the governing boards allocated a portion of the general fund’s income for support of a Skolfield professor who may teach in any department.