A visit to Effat — day 1

May 11, 2010

I’m in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia today at Effat University for a small conference on “Institutional Research in Muslim-Majority Countries.”  There are about three dozen of us here from about 20 different countries.

To get to Jeddah, I left the day after Commencement.  (The celebration was outside on a cold, breezy, gray day, but it was a wonderful event.)  I flew Cincinnati to Chicago, Chicago to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Jeddah over 24 clock hours.  I arrived late Monday evening, and the conference began first thing this morning.

Effat University is a most unusual place:  a university for women (liberal arts, engineering and business) and the first independent institution of higher education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  It was started as a school for girls by Queen Effat in 1955, then transformed into a college in 1999, and desiognated a university in 2009.

The university’s core values, Dr. Haifa Reda Jamal Al-Lail (Effat’s President) explained todat are “directly linked to the first word of the Quran, “IQRA” or “read.”  Each letter stands for one of the university values: Ibhath (undertake life-long research), Qiyam (ethical, social, and educational values), Riyada (responsible and creative leadership), and At-tawasul (effective communication and reaching out to others).

Most interesting to me has been the dialogue around the religious grounding of a liberal arts institution in Islam.

 

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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