Learning in Lebanon... Learing about Lebanon... Learning about Learning... Learning about Life

This site is about my experiences and thoughts as a visiting professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Early in 2009 I was privileged to receive an Australian Endeavour Executive Award for placement at AUB from October to December 2009.

I've come to Lebanon with a number of specific objects, including:

# To build links between AUB and the University of South Australia (UniSA), where I work as an academic developer;

# To research concepts of scholarship and the ways in which academics engage with the Scholarship of Teaching in an Arab context;

#To exchange ideas and approaches to Teaching and Learning with my colleagues at AUB; and

# To better understand the ways in which an institution like AUB fosters student and social inclusivity.

My disciplinary background is in "Near Eastern Studies", with a special interest in the Syriac New Testament and the history of the Eastern Church. Hence, being in Lebanon will hopefully afford some great opportunities to explore various avenues of interest in those areas.

I will be posting articles on these topics, and probably a few others as well. Needless to say, I am responsible for the opinions expressed on this site, and such opinions do not purport to represent the views of AUB, UniSA or of the Endeavour Awards program.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Beirut a culture capital

The article reproduced below is taken from the AUB corporate web page
(see: http://www.aub.edu.lb/news/archive/preview.php?id=100422).
Author: Henry Matthews, Editor, Office of Communications, AUB.

I attended this presentation last week. Though a general survey, Mr Salam made some valid points about the historical and contemporary role of Beirut in integrating cultures of the region with those of the West. One point he made that deserves further consideration, is that cultural diversity or 'freedom', far from destabilising, actually enhanced Beirut's ability to adapt to the enormous challenges faced by Lebanon, especially over the last thirty years. The claim is not without merit, though I suspect that there remains a significant gap between what the local intelligentsia may believe about the virtues of cultural diversity and the tribal realities on the ground.  Educational strategists may be interested in his identification of some of the vocational areas that Lebanon needs to develop.

The speech was given on the ninetieth anniversary of the AUB Women's League - an impressive group of women graduates, many of whom have gone on to exercise leadership and influence in Lebanon. They kindly welcomed me to their meeting, and I must add that they really know how to put on a good 'spread'.

Salam: Beirut will continue being the capital of cultural freedom

AUB President Peter Dorman and Minister Salam

Beirut became the Arab world's hospital, university, and publishing house because its freedom attracted Arab petrodollars and politicians, and Beirut is The New York Times' number one clubbing city in the world.

These facts were highlighted by then-Minister of Culture Tammam Salam in his lecture, "Beirut's Cultural Role in the Middle East," delivered at the monthly meeting of the Women's League on November 2.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three days in Libya

Libya does not figure prominently in Australian consciousness. The older generation may hearken back to a time when in the Libyan desert, Aussie Diggers fought with the Allies against the Italians and Germans for control of North Africa. However, more recent perceptions will tend to be shaped by Libya being often in the news it for what may be called the ‘wrong reasons’. However, as I discovered last week, in company with colleagues from Australian universities, Libya is a beautiful and interesting place, with enormous social and economic potential.

We were part of the ‘Study in Australia’ Education Exhibition, a two day road show for about fourteen Australian universities, which was held at El Fatah University, Tripoli, from 28–29 October. The exhibition consisted mainly of information booths manned by international and marketing staff from the universities. In addition, Victorian and South Australian State Government representatives were in attendance – SA being stylishly represented by Jane Osborn, currently based in Dubai. Indeed, SA was particularly well represented, with UniSA, Flinders University and the SA Government together demonstrating that Adelaide is consolidating its position as a major centre of Australian higher education.