Qatari Women and Ten Years of American Design School: Student Perceptions of a Cross-Cultural Educational Experience

By Byrad Yyelland and Patty Paine.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Women in the Middle East have been historically viewed by the West as possessing very limited personal freedom, but this view is being contested in part by the rapid liberalization of some of the oil-rich Arab states of the Persian Gulf region. In the small state of Qatar, the rise of Education City, a “multi”-versity that features six American branch campuses, has given women in the region, for the first time in recent history, the opportunity to pursue a higher education. How is this new opportunity influencing how women in Qatar envision themselves and their futures?

VCUQatar, the first university to establish itself in Education City, is a branch campus of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Since its inception in 1998, VCUQatar has been predominantly attended by Qatari women. The purpose of this research is to examine the perceptions of alumnae and current students of VCUQatar in order to assess the impact of Western-based higher education on their own perceptions of cultural and self-identity, self-determination and Western culture.

Keywords: Identity, Self, Gender, Culture, Qatar, Education, Cross-cultural

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 9, pp.119-130. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.179MB).

Dr. Byrad Yyelland

Director of General Education, Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, Qatar, Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha, Qatar

Byrad Yyelland is a Canadian who has been teaching undergraduate Psychology and Sociology for 20 years. He did his MA research on emotional labor in nursing and has extended that research in his doctoral research on emotion management within the context of organizational culture change. Byrad and his family recently moved from the prairies of Canada to the deserts of Qatar where he joined Virginia Commonwealth University as Director of General Education at their Doha campus. Byrad's research interests include emotion management, identity, organizational culture change, educational leadership and visual sociology. He is in the final months of completing an EdD in Educational Leadership.

Patty Paine

Assistant Professor, English Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha, Qatar

I received an MFA degree in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2003. I am author of Elegy & Collapse (Finishing Line Press, 2005) and my poems have appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Southern Poetry Journal, The Journal, The Ledge, and many other journals. I am assistant professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Doha, Qatar.

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