Visiting Scholar Nadia Naser-Najjab Reports on Benefits of CCAS Experience

Dr. Nadia Naser-Najjab, a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank, came to CCAS as a visiting scholar in January 2010 through the Palestinian Faculty Development Program, an extended partnership between the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundations Network, USAID, and AMIDEAST. Below she describes her experience at Georgetown University.

This past semester, I worked hard to benefit fully from Georgetown’s resources and to gain the maximum academic experience possible. I conducted soon-to-be-published research on how polygamous marriages affect the psychology of Palestinian women. Four Georgetown professors supplied valuable comments on this research and its methodology: Dr. Rochelle Davis, Dr. Fida Adely, Dr. Sara Scalenghe, and Dr. Laurie King.

I also audited two courses related to my field: “The Psychology of Gender,” with Dr. Juley Fulcher, and “The Body and Sexual Difference,” with Dr. Wilfried Ver Eecke. Both were beneficial and will help me to update the courses that I teach at Birzeit University. In Dr. Fulcher’s class I gained knowledge of the latest research on gender and psychology, and I purchased the documentary films on gender issues that Dr. Fulcher showed in her class. These will be included in my syllabus at Birzeit.

“The Body and Sexual Difference,” one of the most interesting courses that I have attended, looked at a mixture of philosophical and psychological theories about female and male bodies and sexual difference. The class enabled me to formulate ideas for the courses that I teach and even for future courses on philosophy and psychology. Dr. Ver Eecke allowed my full participation in his class and gave me the opportunity to take part in a presentation.

I was also pleased to share my expertise on Arab women and Palestinian issues by giving lectures, such as for Dr. Barbara Stowasser’s class of senior students. The lecture went well, and the students were engaging, attentive, and inquisitive. I also developed a relationship with the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, lecturing twice in a graduate class on Palestinian literature taught by Dr. Elliott Colla. I discussed Palestinian society and women’s roles and experiences within contexts related to the novels and poems assigned. This was a great experience for me, as the students were reading the novels in Arabic and were eager to learn more about Palestinian society.

I spent a lot of time at my office in CCAS and enjoyed the support and helpfulness of Center faculty and staff immensely; they provided me with everything that I needed to facilitate my work. I had a very rewarding experience at Georgetown, and believe that I benefited a great deal from it. My time at CCAS will enable me to raise the standard of both the academic content and methodology of my courses at Birzeit University.