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Dr Davide Pettinato

Research Fellow

My interdisciplinary work aims to break new ground at the interface between Islamic/British Muslim Studies and Environmental Humanities/Development Studies.

On the one hand, I explore on how Muslims and concepts, tools and practices from the Islamic tradition can/are informing the development of faith-literate contributions to address the current environmental/climate crisis, and sustainable development issues. My most recent projects in this area (both with Professor Rob Gleave as the PI) are “British Imams going green” (ongoing) and Islam and water management in a changing climate: building ‘faith-based evidence’” (Jan-Aug 2019). See my ‘Research’ page for more details.

The second strand of my work looks at the discourses and practices of (British) Muslim INGOs/charities. My PhD thesis “Understanding the Discourse of British Muslim NGOs: Islamic Relief and MADE (Muslim Action for Development and the Environment) as Case Studies” offered ground-breaking insight into the historical evolution of these actors and of British Muslims’ civic engagement; and into the interplay between their religious (Muslim) and secular (developmental/environmental) values and frames of reference.

Alongside my academic work, I have several years’ experience of working in/with British Muslim NGOs in a research capacity, during which I compiled several impact-oriented reports. Recently, I have also contributed to organise (with the Muslims in Britain Research Network, MBRN) the first academic/practitioners conference on this topic (“British Muslim Charitable Organisations: A Best Practice Forum”)

On the teaching side, throughout my years at the IAIS, I have been leading seminars and lectures on the modules ‘Introduction to Islam’, ‘Muslims in Britain’, and ‘Islamic law and society’. Given my special interest on climate change, in 2017 I also contributed to the award-winning MOOC: ‘Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions.

Research interests

My research interests include exploring:

  1. how the Islamic tradition (cosmology, ethics, principles and practices of Islamic jurisprudence and law) can have a direct, practical role in addressing the environmental/climate crisis and promoting sustainable development
  2. Muslim contributions to environmental and sustainable development discourses and practices
  3. (British) Muslim charities and INGOs, with a focus on their relationship with the Islamic tradition, their values, and the modes of civic engagement they promote

My two most recent projects are:

(i) British Imams going green”. In this ongoing project (with Professor Rob Gleave as the PI; supported by the University of Exeter’s ESRC-Impact Acceleration Account) I am working with leading Muslim institutions of faith-literate learning in the UK (Cambridge Muslim College; Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda, Blackburn) to develop a framework for equipping British Imams with the knowledge and skills necessary to act as role models for environmental awareness and climate action within Muslim communities. Through a pioneering collaboration with partners in Geography (Professor Timothy Lenton; Dr Saffron O'Neill), this timely, impact-oriented project not only promotes a dialogue between the Islamic tradition and climate science/strategies for climate action; but also, aims to co-produce and pilot faith-literate and scientifically up-to-date educational resources on this topic

(ii) Islam and water management in a changing climate: building ‘faith-based evidence’”. In this 7-months’ pump-priming project (again with mentoring from Rob Gleave, and with support from the University of Exeter’s GCRF Facilitation Fund) I explored the ‘Islamic water code’ and developed an interdisciplinary framework (which includes analysis from the angles of development economics, hydrology, and water engineering) of how this tradition could be used to address today’s water challenges in the specific socio-environmental context of water-stressed oases in Tunisia. The project led to a ground-breaking interdisciplinary workshop that included contributions from UK, EU and Tunisian experts on water ethics, water poverty, water governance, and water sustainable engineering.

Modules taught


PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies. University of Exeter, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. Thesis: “Understanding the Discourse of British Muslim NGOs: Islamic Relief and MADE as Case Studies”

MLitt in Islamic Studies (Distinction). University of Aberdeen / Al Maktoum College of Higher Education, Dundee

MSc in Applied Biology (Distinction. 110/110 cum laude). University of Pavia, Italy

BSc in Biology (Distinction. 110/110 cum laude). University of Pavia, Italy

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