Malaysia: Interdisciplinary and International Summer School

Social Inequality through the Lens of Area Studies

Dear students,


We are thrilled to announce an extraordinary learning opportunity this summer – the “Malaysia: Social Inequality through the Lens of Area Studies – Interdisciplinary and International Summer School”. This program is a collaboration between the Lehrstuhl für Religionswissenschaft und Interkulturelle Theologie (Prof. Giovanni Maltese), the Elite Graduate Program “Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures” (SDAC) and the Institut für Soziologie (PD Dr. Viola Thimm, Dr. Ferdiansyah Thajib, and Oleg Vasilchenko as well as the Albukhary International University (AIU), Malaysia, represented by Assoc Prof Frederik Holst.

The summer school will take place in the city of Alor Setar, Malaysia.


Program Overview:

This compact fundamentally interdisciplinary course aims to investigate concepts of Social Business as a means to battle social inequality, mainly global poverty, unemployment and climate change. A social business, as our working definition puts it, is a business created to solve social issues in a financially sustainable way. While the concept of Social Business has been introduced and implemented across various regions, its impact and effectiveness vary based on local circumstances. This program aims to delve into these differences, examining the influence of political, economic, historical, cultural, and societal structures, as well as aspects of identity like gender, religion, or ethnicity, on addressing social inequality.


The summer school is structured into two parts: The first week focuses on theoretical frameworks related to social inequality such as gender, sexuality, citizenship or religion and global implementations of Social Businesses, facilitated by a team of lecturers from both AIU and FAU. This approach promotes a transregional and transdisciplinary learning environment, enriched by practical experiences in the field. During the second week, participants will engage in field trips to Social Business sites in rural Northern Malaysia, gaining firsthand insights into their operations and the challenges they face within their economic, political, and societal contexts. These field trips, prepared by student groups from AIU and FAU, include elements of self-research, citizen science, and science-to-public assignments encourage collaborative learning. They offer diverse perspectives, fostering mutual understanding and knowledge exchange. Particularly, for students of theology as well as “Media – Ethics – Religion”, this entails the early development of intercultural skills alongside engagement and collaboration with contexts and partners from the so-called Global South.


Schedule and Credits:

The summer school spans 10 working days, from the 5th to the 16th of August (Mondays to Fridays), followed by an additional excursion from the 16th to the 19th of August (Friday until Monday). Further details will be provided to selected students at a later date.



Accommodation and food expenses for all students will be fully covered by AIU, from the 5th to the 16th of August. We are also negotiating with the faculty for additional funding to partially support flight costs, subject to approval. Moreover, selected students can apply for the DAAD-Promos (period for application 1.6.-15.7.2024) scholarship and the FAU-Reisestipendium (period for application 1.6.-8.7.2024).


Application Process:

We have only a few open slots for theology students. Interested candidates are required to submit a letter of motivation (max. 700 words in German or English), highlighting your interest in the topic, reasons for participation, and how the summer school could benefit your studies or career aspirations.

Please send your applications via email to by the 3rd of May 2024.


This summer school represents a unique opportunity to expand your academic and practical understanding of social inequalities within a global context. We encourage you to apply and look forward to an enriching and transformative experience together.