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Professor Chosen for Middle East Seminar in Jordan

Dr. Kim Jarvis, assistant professor of history, is one of 12 professors nationwide who will spend three weeks in Amman, Jordan, to further their teaching of Islam and Middle Eastern Culture.

The seminar "Teaching About Islam and Middle Eastern Culture" is funded by the U.S. Department of State and takes place at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman, Jordan, Dec. 28-Jan. 19. (The center is an academic institution founded in 1968 that serves as a liaison between Jordanian institutions and international scholars.)

Sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the seminar is designed for independent college and university professors who are not experts in Islam or Middle Eastern culture, but who are teaching or developing related courses. The three weeks in Jordan help them learn and understand the region and its effect on modern times. It includes visits to archaeological sites such as Petra and meetings with local experts and dignitaries.

Jarvis studied Islamic history while completing her doctorate. At Doane, her courses include Middle East history and an honors class on Islamic culture. She also is developing additional courses about the Middle East as part of Doane's expanding "Cultural Perspectives" component of the general education requirement.

The seminar will deepen her understanding of Middle East topics, which will benefit future Doane students as well, Jarvis said.

"Before Sept. 11, we didn't think about the Middle East so much. If we did, it normally was news about fighting. Now, it's a matter of foreign policy and daily news messages."

In her current coursework, she tries to capture for students "the dangers of assuming everyone thinks like they do."

"And I try to show the region's diversity, its influence and contributions in history, and that most Muslims condemn (terrorists) and what they are doing."

She is anxious to transfer what she learns to the classroom.

"We should be able to give students as broad an experience as we can. That's the beauty of higher education -- offering viewpoints they haven't experienced before."

While in Jordan, Jarvis also hopes to touch base with 2006 Doane graduate Kamleh Shaban, a Fulbright scholar who will spend a year in Jordan comparing Western and Islamic medicine.