This spring, a group of HWS students will be the first in the Colleges’ history to study abroad in Jordan, a country coming to terms with political responsibility and social change, which will provide the students with unique opportunities for research and learning.
Kelly Bushey ’10, Catherine Hotaling ’11, Martin Michaels ’11 and Blair Pierson ’11 will spend a semester in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a modern industrial city of more than 3 million people, with a rich, 8,000-year history.
“We’ve established a new program in Amman, Jordan to accommodate increased student interest in the Middle East and in the Muslim world,” says Tom D’Agostino, director of the HWS Center for Global Education. “The Colleges have hired a number of new faculty who focus on the region and on Islamic Studies more broadly, and our curricular offerings in these areas have sparked a lot of student interest.”
While the Amman program may be of particular interest to those studying economic development, international relations, gender studies, politics, environmental studies, religious studies and sociology, it is suited to students in many fields.
Pierson says he is particularly excited about the “intensive language offerings” offered by the program, as well as “the cultural immersion” that a semester abroad provides.
The HWS Jordan program is offered in affiliation with the School for International Training (SIT), an organization that has placed U.S. students in rigorous, highly specialized programs throughout the world for decades. HWS students will join other students from colleges throughout the U.S. to share course work, excursions and the study of place. A unique feature of the program is that all students will design and carry out, in consultation with SIT and HWS faculty, a four-week long independent field study project within the city of Amman in any of a broad number of academic areas.
“The addition of this new program in a region that is critically important to the U.S. enhances our menu of off-campus study options and will enable students to gain invaluable firsthand experience to complement their on-campus studies,” says D’Agostino.
Jordan has made enormous strides recently in health care, literacy, and democratic and economic reform; however, it remains challenged by a lack of natural resources, environmental concerns, economic and social issues, and the impact of Palestinian immigrants and refugees, who now make up more than half of the nation’s population.
More recently, Iraqi refugees have been pouring into the country and changing the demographic and physical landscapes of the capital, which makes Jordan an ideal place for students with interests in development, social change and political reform, as well as for those with an interest in Islam, Arabic studies or with a general interest in the Middle East to launch their studies in the region.
Students will live in family homestays in Amman, where they will be exposed to the experience of modern Jordanian family life. In addition, there will be a one-week homestay experience in a rural Bedouin community during the semester, which along with short excursions elsewhere in Jordan, will highlight the country’s natural history and resources and show the contrasts between urban and rural Jordanian life.