My colleagues Barry Newstead, Frank Schulenburg, Moushira Elamrawy, Professor Adel Iskandar from Georgetown University, and I will be doing research for this project.
Today Adel and I set off to our first school, Ain Shams. The meeting with Dr. Iman (photo) proved hopeful because of her students’ subject matter for their research. They are doing quite a bit of publishing in the realm of Egyptian history, theatre, drama and general research that could enrich the Arabic ecosystem on Wikipedia.
The challenges will be steep because of the lack of computer access on campus; however, the content for the project seems somewhat promising because of Dr. Iman’s track record at the school, her tight knit relationships with her students (graduates would still willingly share their research work even after finishing the university), the level of her students’ research (with citations) and her interest in the program. Some of the subjects her students have written thesis papers on include:
- History of Censorship in Egypt
- Egyptian Arabic Theatre
- Dissidence in Society: Comparisons in Theatre Plays
- Theatre of the Revolution
- Voices of the Marginalized
Through discussions, the key lessons that may help the Global Education Program include:
- Learn from the current Wikimedia community in the MENA region
- Encourage new ways to successfully build the projects
- Find ways for students to succeed by having them write on topics they are actually interested in researching.
- Incentivize the program by finding academic rewards (whether it may be through grades, letters of recommendation, etc.)
- Leverage the current situation around the Arab Revolution to move students’ disenchantment with the academic system towards improving the relationship between the teachers and students at the university
This project comes at a time when many administration and faculty members are leaving the university. Tomorrow we set off to the campuses of Cairo University. It’s so good to be back in مصر/Egypt.