NSU faculty in Jordan to study women's movement in Middle East

Image of Amy Aldridge Sanford.
Image of Dilene Crockett.

Tahlequah, Okla. — Traveling abroad as participants in Northeastern State University’s International Faculty Development Fellowship Program, two university faculty are staying in Jordan from June 15-23.

Dr. Amy Aldridge Sanford, assistant professor of communication studies, and Dr. Dilene Crockett, associate professor of business administration at NSU-Broken Arrow, are visiting the capital Amman to learn about the women’s movement in the Middle East.

“Dilene and I are together on this quite coincidentally,” Sanford said. “A list of about 18 trips were available, and I chose Jordan because it was the only one with a focus on women.”

Jordan interested Crockett because of its economic development projects. While the learning topic of the Amman trip is “Middle Eastern Women: Tradition, Development and Change,” the itinerary includes a lecture from Taghreed Al-Nafeesi, a Jordanian ranked among the Arab world’s 50 most powerful businesswomen by Forbes, and a visit to the Queen Zein Al Sharaf Institute for Development.

“The country is noted for some exemplary programs,” she said. “We will spend a full day on a site visit to El-Badia, where we will get to see its economic and social development projects and speak with women who are community leaders.”

The trips are arranged by the Council on International Education Exchange in cooperation with NSU and offer comprehensive study opportunities.

The program is funded through an endowment with the Office of International Programs and managed by the NSU Foundation. During their visit, Sanford and Crockett will hear lectures from experts on Middle Eastern women’s issues.

“International faculty development is an important component of how NSU meets its mission, which includes international globalization opportunities for faculty and students,” said Provost Martin Tadlock. “Experiences abroad allow faculty to enhance instruction and that benefits the educational experience for students at NSU.”

By visiting the Middle East, Sanford hopes to broaden the scope of her women’s issues courses and enhance the practical knowledge of her students.

“I’ve recently changed the name of my rhetoric of women’s movements course to Rhetoric of U.S. Women’s Movements,” she said. “Women have been fighting for greater rights in the U.S. for 150 years. In a place like Jordan, they have begun fighting more recently. I need to see what is going on internationally.”

As an entrepreneurship instructor, Crockett seeks knowledge to expand the breadth of her lessons.

“I want this trip to help me formulate ideas, especially in social and arts entrepreneurship,” she said. “I also hope to make some connections for NSU so that our business entrepreneurship students can undertake learning projects.”

In recent years, women in Jordan have worked to diminish sexual discrimination and harassment in social and legal arenas. Though concerns persist, Sanford said the Jordanian women’s movement is a model of success in a region where western applications of gender equity are rarely contemplated.

“This will enhance my understanding of women’s movements elsewhere,” she said. “I’ll have been in Amman and talked to people living there. The women of Jordan have made a lot of headway, but their country borders some others which are not as progressive on women’s issues as we would define it. We want to study how Jordan has done it, and possibly look at how their methods might be applied to other countries in the region.”

An ancillary goal of international faculty development is to encourage students to take trips abroad.

“I think for students to be competitive in the job market or when applying to graduate school, international exposure through travel is very helpful,” Sanford said. “When we come back and talk about our experiences we want our students to have the courage to do the same such things. I want my experience to give me the courage to plan an international trip for my students.”

Three other instructors are participating in the NSU International Faculty Development Fellowship Program this summer. Dr. Elizabeth Keller visited Spain and Morocco, Dr. Jennifer Lynn Edwards travels to Ireland and Dr. Michael Wilds will study in Thailand.

Sanford is maintaining a blog during her stay in Amman: http://amyinamman.blogspot.com/ 

Published: 6/21/2011 10:39:46 AM

Go back to News Central