POSTPONED — Ethics and international relations scholar to speak about Islam, humanitarian intervention at ASU

March 8, 2016

Editor's note: Due to family reasons professor Sohail Hashmi is unable to come to Tempe at this time. His visit has been postponed to a date to be determined later; an announcement will be made as soon as it has been rescheduled. The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict apologizes for any inconvenience and thanks you for your continued support of our events.

The humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring states raises urgent questions about the responsibility of the international community — particularly the U.S. — to intervene to relieve human suffering.

As in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, the use of military force for humanitarian purposes occupies a central place in that conversation. But in the wake of Western-led military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the debate over intervening in Muslim-majority countries is deeply contentious, and the implications are grave.

Sohail Hashmi, Alumnae Foundation Chair and professor of international relations at Mount Holyoke College, will address these issues in a free public lecture titled, “Is There an Islamic Ethic of Humanitarian Intervention?”

The lecture will be held at noon, Wednesday, March 16, at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict in West Hall, room 135, on ASU’s Tempe campus.

As a specialist in religion and politics, Western and Islamic moral and political philosophy, and Middle East politics, Hashmi is particularly concerned with the religious and ethical implications of humanitarian and foreign intervention.

“In such crises, what response does Islamic ethics require from Muslim states and peoples?” asks Hashmi.

And within a secular framework of contested international norms for humanitarian intervention, he further inquires, “What is the place for religious conceptions of human rights and responsibilities?”

The field of ethics and international relations developed in the 1980s and 1990s, and Hashmi was among the earliest scholars to take up the challenge of humanitarian military intervention.

“Sohail Hashmi brings a crucial, often ignored perspective to the discussion of humanitarianism, especially relevant to the Syrian Civil War and refugee crisis we are witnessing today,” said John Carlson, acting director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and associate professor of religious studies.

“His work is particularly important for understanding how Islamic ethics provides guidance not only to Muslims, but also to non-Muslims and to those nations and organizations wondering whether and how to relieve human suffering,” said Carlson.

Hashmi raises pressing ethical questions that expand and sharpen our understanding of “the human” within “humanitarianism” — the various needs, impulses, intentions and actions that make humanitarian intervention such a difficult issue, according to Carlson.

“His work is particularly insightful for the attention he pays to the interaction among religious, secular and cultural ideas and discourses,” Carlson said.

Hashmi is author of numerous articles and the editor or co-editor of five books, including "Islamic Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism and Conflict" (2002), which was named one of Choice magazine’s Outstanding Academic Books of 2003, "Ethics and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Religious and Secular Perspectives" (2004), and most recently, "Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges" (2012).

His current research focuses on Muslim responses to international law.

Hashmi holds a master’s degree in Near East studies from Princeton University and a doctoral degree in political science from Harvard University.

He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and grants — from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council and the W. Alton Jones Foundation. In 2005, he was named a Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Hashmi has taught a wide variety of classes at Mount Holyoke since 1994, including International Relations and Middle East Politics; Ethics and International Relations; Political Islam; and Just War and Jihad: Comparative Ethics of War and Peace.

He also lectures frequently to audiences around the country on topics relating to Islam in world politics, and led a major NEH-funded summer institute on “American Muslims: History, Culture and Politics.”

The lecture is part of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict’s “Conversations at the Center” speaker series. It is one of several activities exploring issues of human rights and humanitarian intervention under the Center’s Religion and Global Citizenship initiative, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.

For more information and to register for the lecture, see the event page.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict is an interdisciplinary research unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the role of religion as a driving force in human affairs. Sohail Hashmi Download Full Image

Terry Williams

Communication and events coordinatior, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict


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Starting to look like a car

ASU's Formula SAE team tours real-world companies for inspiration.
Spring break means a chance to get ahead on car construction.
The ASU car club's few female students say they're really enjoying the work.
March 8, 2016

Sun Devil Motorsports 16 team overcomes setbacks, hits the workshop hard over spring break as national competition rolls closer

Editor’s note: This is the latest installation in a yearlong series about ASU's Formula SAEFormula SAE is a student design competition organized by the International Society of Automotive Engineers (now known as SAE International). team. Find links to previous stories at the end of this article.

If the story of the Arizona State University student engineers building a race car for a June competition were a movie, this would be the part where the broken and bloodied hero lifts his head and knows he’s got a fighting chance.

In the past few weeks they made mistakes, took hits and lost money and morale.

Now they’re back in the race.

It’s the first Saturday of spring break. Yet in a machine shop in the back of the Psychology North building on the Tempe campus, the only sign of a holiday is electronic dance music pulsing in between the whine of metal grinders.

These are the students of the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers, working on a design competition to build a Formula-style race car. The concept behind the competition is that a fictional manufacturing company has contracted a design team to develop a small Formula-style race car. The prototype is to be evaluated at the competition in Nebraska for its potential as a production item. Each team designs, builds and tests a prototype based on a series of rules.

‘In a pretty good pinch’

The ASU team has been struggling for the past three weeks. They made a mistake cutting the suspension tabs that hold the A arms, which support the wheels.

“It pulled us back in so many ways,” team manager Troy Buhr said.

Formula SAE students work in the shop.

The Formula SAE team's chief engineer,
Wes Kudela, TIG welds supports on the
car's A arms, which support the wheels,
on March 5, the first Saturday of spring
break, in Tempe.

Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

“We didn’t know we weren’t cutting to the exact tolerances, so we lost $600,” team chief engineer Wes Kudela said. “We were in a pretty good pinch.”

The suspension tabs are curved to fit the chassis tubes, and they need to fit to a 32nd of an inch tolerance. K-zell Metals, a Phoenix fabricator, laser-cut the new suspension tabs. The team began to mount them Saturday.

This week they plan to take advantage of spring break to mount the upper and lower A arms on the chassis, bolt the hubs on and mount the wheels.

“There’ll be activity every day,” said Kudela, a senior in mechanical engineering. “I feel like this spring break is going to make me a lot less stressed.”

The new hubs are waiting to be machined at the ASU Machine Shop. Until then, the team is mounting the old hubs.

“Then we’ll have a rolling chassis,” said Buhr, a junior in mechanical engineering. “It’ll start looking like a car. It’ll shoot spirits up. It’s a big thing.”

Doing a pace-car lap at the Indy races at Phoenix International Raceway — an April thrill the team was hoping for — likely isn't going to happen. The team would have had to buy a policy with a million dollars in liability. Now Buhr is working on getting insurance for a static display of the car at PIR. “I’ve gone into plea mode,” he said. “I don’t know anything about insurance.”

Meeting that April 2 date at the raceway is the new goal. “That’s what we’re shooting for,” Kudela said.

A glimpse of the real world

A PitchFunder campaign to raise $10,000 for transportation will kick off March 29. The team needs a U-Haul to take the car to the competition in Lincoln, Nebraska; a charter bus for the 30 team members who will be going; and motel rooms for everyone. 

“Time is the big thing,” Buhr said. “We’ve always pulled back because of money. ... We have plenty of members putting their heart and soul into the club … (but) we’re not as far ahead as we should be.”

Hexcel, a materials company that makes carbon-fiber and composite materials for aerospace, defense, wind energy and other markets, donated excess honeycomb material that will be sandwiched between carbon-fiber plates on the nose cone. Team members recently had a tour of the Hexcel facilities in Casa Grande.

“It was pretty amazing,” Buhr said. “There might be a couple of guys who get jobs there.”

About 30 team members also toured the Southwest Airlines maintenance facility at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

“We got to watch them tear down a plane,” Buhr said. “Going out and seeing the actual industry is eye-opening.”

Women on the team

The engine is built and working. It needs to be fine-tuned for optimum performance. The engine team has it up on a table mount, with wires feeding performance data into a laptop and electrical diagnostic equipment.

At the back of the shop, team members are drilling holes into a metal tube that will become a pedal mount. They’re good metal workers. They tap the tube with a drill bit, slowly creating a pilot hole so neither the bit nor the metal heats up too quickly and torques the piece out of shape. Among those working is Emily MacMillan, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering.

Needless to say, a workshop where an engineering club is building a race car can be a macho environment. Among the sea of Mopar T-shirts, beards and guys wielding tools, female students stand out like neon lights. The few women in the club say they really enjoy the work.

Formula SAE students

Emily MacMillan, a senior in mechanical engineering, drills holes in the pedal assembly as work continues on the Formula SAE race car on March 5 on the Tempe campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

MacMillan has been with the club two months.

“I wanted more hands-on experience,” she said. “I have friends in the club, and they really enjoyed it.”

MacMillan has been learning about welding, using a variety of metal-working tools, and measuring. Working in a sea of dudes doesn’t faze her.

“I’m kind of used to it because of my major,” she said. “For me it’s natural. It doesn’t bother me. I wished I’d joined it sooner.”

Across the room, Alejandra Charcas, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, works on a 3-D model of a part. She said she didn’t mind being in the minority either.

“It’s not intimidating,” Charcas said. “Everyone’s really friendly. I actually joined with my friend. We just needed to get involved to put something on a resume. We don’t actually know much about cars. Building a car is super-complicated.”

Charcas always liked chemistry and math in high school.

“I went into civil engineering and just drifted into mechanical engineering,” she said. “Mechanical is really broad; you can take it wherever you want.”

Previous stories in this series:

Oct. 14: Tempe Drift: How an underdog student engineering team is building a race car from the ground up.

Nov. 4: Racing time and money to build a fast car.

Dec. 10: Braking bad: Pressure is on for ASU student engineers building race car

Dec. 17: No brake: ASU team powers through to edge closer to race car

Feb. 1: Coming into the home stretch