OREM — Brad Cook, the vice president of academic affairs at Utah Valley State College, will take the helm of a college in the Middle East about the same time as his new book about Islamic education rolls off presses.
Cook has been a vice president at UVSC for seven years.
In August, he will move with his family to the United Arab Emirates to be chief executive officer of a campus of the Higher Education Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
"It's very similar to UVSC in the sense it's very career-oriented," he said. "It has two- and four-year degrees in business, the health sciences or health industry, as well as education and in computer science and technology."
Cook signed a contract with the college for three years and has the possibility to remain at the school longer, he said.
While classes at the college are taught in English, Cook speaks fluent Arabic. He began studying the language as a child growing up in the Middle East and earned a doctorate degree in Oriental and Middle East studies from Oxford University in England.
Cook and co-author Fathi Malkawi offer a number of translated writings of Islamic philosophers in "Classical Foundations of Islamic Education Thought: A Compendium," expected to be published by Brigham Young University Press in the fall.
The original texts are in Arabic, and facing pages have English translations, Cook said.
The book features 30-35 pages of texts of eight influential Islamic education philosophers from the 8th-13th centuries, a high point for scholarship in the Middle East.
Europe at the time was intellectually stifled and the Islamic philosophers advanced Greco-Hellenic ideas in mathematics, architecture, medicine and art.
"These philosophers we translated were as important to the intellectual development of the Islamic world as Plato and Aristotle were to the Western world," Cook said.
One philosopher, for example, is Ibn Sahnun, who wrote "The Book of Rules and Conduct for Teachers."
The book is about primary education. It addresses topics such as student discipline, classroom management, educational leadership and limits of corporal punishment.
Sahnun believed teachers needed to be circumspect in their approach, Cook said, adding that Sahnun's ideas were ahead of his time.
Cook and Malkawi compiled a list of 30 influential Islamic philosophers, with input from colleagues, and winnowed it down to eight.
They found some of the texts in the libraries of American universities. Others were more difficult to hunt down, and required the help of colleagues in Damascus, Syria, and Cairo, Egypt.
Islamic scholars who live in places such as India and Indonesia and who do not speak Arabic are excited about the book because they'll be able to read the texts for the first time — in English.
"Many of these pieces that we translated have been important works in the Arabic-speaking world," Cook said. "In the non-Arabic speaking world, they have been largely inaccessible."