Middle East studies in the News
Wofford Establishing Virtual Exchange to Interact with Middle East, North African Students [incl. Courtney Dorroll]
by Zach Fox
Wofford College has been awarded a grant that college officials say will help students better identify with students across the globe.
The college received a two-year grant to use a virtual exchange to increase cross-cultural understanding. The project will allow students to participate in exchanges with students in the Middle East and North Africa.
"The program will allow students to share histories and cultural artifacts through a virtual genealogy museum, discuss films through blogs and interact in Q&A style Skype classroom sessions," Courtney Dorroll, assistant professor of Middle Eastern and North African studies at Wofford, said in an email.
The program, under Dorroll's direction, will launch at Wofford this fall.
Funding will come from the Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative, named for U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The public-private partnership designed to increase information sharing between youth in the United States and the Middle East and North Africa.
A total of $5 million has been provided for online programs to bring young people together to engage in cross-cultural learning experiences. The programs include collaborations between institutions in 25 states and 17 countries.
Wofford's project is one of the first virtual exchange programs funded by the Stevens Initiative
Bailey Carraway, a Wofford senior, said the exchange would remind students that there is more to unite young people across the world than to divide them.
"It would allow Wofford students to gain a broader perspective about the world. It is easy to imagine that places far from us, specifically the Middle East, are 'other,' characterized only by the events we see on the news," she said in an email.
Dorroll plans to integrate the virtual exchange across disciplines at Wofford. Along with training for professors, live exchanges between students and a library-generated research guide will be kept at Wofford for future activities.
The project scope will span religion, government, languages and studies of the region.
"In fall 2014, I started a small virtual exchange with a professor in Cairo, Egypt," Dorroll said in an email. "Wofford students were able to interact with peers in the (Middle East and North Africa) region, the part of the world they were studying and researching."
Elliot Gerson, executive vice president of the Aspen Institute, said in a statement the organization hopes to create a series of virtual, global classrooms.
Each classroom will be designed to spark conversations between students in different countries and to encourage the sharing of ideas and information to address globally important issues.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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