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Gender and women’s studies conference held at AUS
Under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS) the inaugural conference of the UAE Gender and Women's Studies Consortium was opened at the AUS main building today by Sheikh Isam Bin Saqr Bin Humaid Al Qassimi, Chairman of the Office of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah.
Gender and women's studies scholars from 30 countries and 70 universities around the world have gathered at AUS to network, to learn of new scholarly works as well as to facilitate collaboration on gender and women's studies.
The consortium will also celebrate the International Women's Day on March 8 as part of this first in the region academic conference focusing on gender and women's studies in the Gulf region.
"I am very pleased to welcome you to AUS for the inaugural Gender and Women's Studies in the Arab Region Conference," said Dr. Peter Heath, AUS Chancellor. "The forum is organized by the UAE Gender and Women's Studies Consortium, which brings together people who are committed to promoting the establishment of women's studies in institutions across the UAE."
"There is no way to capture in such a short space the remarkable breadth and scope of this conference. The intellectual expertise and scholarly resources gathered here are truly amazing. You will have the opportunity to hear from dozens of the world's most prominent scholars of gender and the Arab region," said Thomas Hochstettler, AUS Provost.
"The establishment of the consortium, the inauguration of this conference and the wealth of expertise gathered here all demonstrate the importance of gender here in the UAE and around the world," said Dr. Mark Rush, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences. "We look forward to ongoing international cooperation in research and study program development in this important area of study."
During the conference, scholars from 30 nations will present over 90 papers of cutting-edge research on gender and women's issues in the Arab Region. Both established and budding scholars are included in the conference. A number of presenters are graduate students from universities around the world.
"This conference comes at a critically important time. Conference papers are organized around key themes: integrating research and scholarship on the myriad roles of gender in society into university curricula; methods for conducting gender-based research; and new explorations of gender in politics in the Arab region," said Dr. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley, Associate Professor of English at the AUS College of Arts and Sciences and Co-Chair of the conference.
Papers that will be presented at the conference fall into three broad thematic areas: teaching gender and women's studies, gender and women's studies perspectives in/and the Arab region as well as focus on Arab feminisms. Conference papers address a wide range of questions. A number of scholars will present researches on women's roles in the Arab Spring while others will report on the challenges of teaching about gender issues in the Arab region. Other popular themes about representations of gender in Arab fiction and public policies to advance women's social status will also be presented.
Conference plenary speakers Dr. Suad Joseph from the University of California at Davis in USA and Dr. Lynda Birke from the University of Chester in UK, brought globally recognized research on gender to the UAE. In her address, Dr. Joseph presented new perspectives on the interactions between the state and the family in the Arab Region. Her talk stressed the need for renewed attention to family/state relationships as these have a formative impact on gender roles. Dr. Birke's presentation linked gender and science. Based on her internationally acclaimed research in the natural sciences, especially her work on the biological body and species difference, Dr. Birke analyzed feminist critiques of standard science practices.
"We are proud to have attracted such an amazing array of scholars from every corner of the earth. The conference will provide many opportunities to meet scholars at the forefront of inspiring educational changes and gender inflected research projects that are changing the ways we teach and think about virtually every aspect of life in the Arab region," said Dr. Susan Feiner, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies and Professor of Economics at the University of Southern Maine in USA.
The consortium, a collaborative group of faculty and administrators representing 11 UAE universities, supports activities to enhance student learning, encourages cross-campus faculty research initiatives, and promotes gender and women's studies through extracurricular programming drawing on the expertise of the many faculty involved.
Currently housed at AUS, the consortium is directed by Dr. Golley, who supports faculty throughout the UAE as they work to integrate material about gender and women into their courses, programs of study and extracurricular activities.
The opening of the conference was attended by Salem Al Qaseer, AUS Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs; Dr. Moza Al Shehhi, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs; deans and other senior officials.