USC Upstate News

Zack Awarded Fulbright Schlolarship to Jordan

08- 15- 2006

Zack_LizabethSpartanburg, S.C. – Dr. Lizabeth Zack, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina Upstate, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship that will enable her to do a combination of teaching and research around the theme of political protest and social movements at the University of Jordan in Amman. She will be at the University of Jordan from September 1 to May 31, 2007.

“This opportunity will significantly expand my teaching experience,” said Zack, who has taught at USC Upstate for the past three years. “I am used to teaching American students about other parts of the world but now I will be teaching Jordanian students about American society. I will also share the information and experience I gain in Jordan with the university and the wider community when I return. This will enlarge and enhance the discussions and debates that will take place in USC Upstate classrooms.”

Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by former Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The Fulbright Scholar Program is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars in Washington, D.C. Since the establishment of the Program, 43,000 Fulbright Visiting Scholars have conducted research or taught in U.S. universities, and more than 41,000 Fulbright U.S. Scholars have engaged in similar activities abroad. The Fulbright Program awards approximately 800 grants to U.S. Scholars each year. Currently, the Program operates in 140 countries worldwide. Designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, the Fulbright Scholar Program continues to be regarded by many as one of our country's best foreign diplomacy policies.

The University of Jordan is the most prestigious university in the country of Jordan and has an enrollment of more than 32,000 students. The courses that Zack will teach are part of the American Studies program and will expose Jordanian students to important social movements in American history, such as the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Her research project will examine contemporary patterns of protest in Jordan. During the year, she also plans to travel throughout the country, visit other countries of the Middle East, and learn to speak Arabic.

With all of the current unrest in the Middle East, Zack thinks it is still important for Americans to travel to and learn about the region. While the conflict in the Middle East is certainly at the forefront of most people’s minds, Zack isn’t worried about her personal safety. She says the Fulbright Commission wouldn’t allow its award recipients to travel to the region if there was a threat to their safety. Zack is more concerned about the travel restrictions that she might face as traveling in the nearby region will probably be more difficult now.

“Groups that are willing to adopt terrorism in order to achieve their goals are a tiny minority,” she says. “It is vital to keep channels of communication open during these turbulent times. Americans can’t afford to be isolated from the rest of the world. We have to remain engaged, particularly in the Middle East.”

This Fulbright isn’t the first award that Zack has received. She was awarded a Fulbright grant to France in 1996-97 where she conducted research for her doctoral dissertation on protest and identity in French colonial Algeria. She has also been awarded travel grants to present conference papers on the subjects of anti-Semitism, Islamic activism, and revolution in Algeria. In 2005, she won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to work on her book manuscript, Identity and Conflict: The Making of the French and Algerians in Colonial Algeria, 1830-1962. And last year, the USC Upstate Center for International Studies and Programs sponsored Zack for a two-week faculty development seminar on “Contemporary Arab Culture and Society” at the University in Amman, where she got the idea to return.

“This is a great privilege for me to be able to learn more about the Middle East up close and for an extended period of time. But it is also an opportunity to build long-term partnerships between USC Upstate and universities in the region of the Middle East. This could result in new study abroad programs and global classroom experiences, as well as opportunities for Middle Eastern students and scholars to come to South Carolina,” Zack said.

Zack, a native of Lansing, Michigan, earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Michigan State University and her master’s and doctorate degrees from The New School for Social Research in New York City. She will share details of her experience in the Middle East in a blog that can be accessed from the USC Upstate website at www.uscupstate.edu.

Jordan is a Middle Eastern country, bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Saudi Arabia to the east and south and both Israel and the West Bank to the west. The official language is Arabic, but Englishis used widely in commerce and government and among educated people. Jordan has consistently followed a pro-Western foreign policy and traditionally has had close relations with the United States and the United Kingdom.

For more details, contact Dr. Lizabeth Zack at (864) 503-5739 or lzack@uscupstate.edu.