The goals of the programme are to:
- improve the teaching of Islamic art and architecture;
- promote excellence in advanced research;
- enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture, urbanism, and visual culture in light of contemporary theoretical, historical, critical, and developmental issues; and
- promote the knowledge of Islamic cultural heritage.
AKPIA is a centre of excellence in the history, theory, and practice of Islamic architecture at Harvard and MIT. Its mandate is to educate architects, planners, teachers, and researchers who can contribute directly to meeting the building and design needs of Muslim communities today. When it was launched, His Highness the Aga Khan said,“I have selected two of America’s most distinguished architectural schools – Harvard and MIT – and established a programme for Islamic architecture. This programme will not only utilise their immense intellectual resources for the benefit of scholars seeking to understand Islamic architecture, but also circulate this expertise among students, teachers and universities in Muslim and Western countries.”
To date, over 220 graduates and over 100 post-doctoral fellows representing some 37 nationalities have graduated from the Program. Endowments have supported the operation of Harvard's textual and visual collections on the history of Islamic art and architecture, and have enabled MIT to develop an outstanding visual and reference collection on the architecture of the 20th-century Muslim world. The Program also publishes Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, produced since 1983.
Currently, there are four Aga Khan Professors (two each at Harvard and MIT) and two documentation centres. The Program also provides funds for lectures and conferences, as well as for students, including post-doctoral students.
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