Focus on women’s leadership builds global connections

July 18, 2013 11:00 AM

Aidan Smith

One of only five American universities chosen by the U.S. State Department for the Innovations in Civil Participation project, Tulane University is partnered with Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. On a June visit there with Tulane colleagues, Sally J. Kenney, executive director of the Newcomb College Institute, taught a master’s course in women’s leadership.

Sally Kenney in Pakistan

Sally J. Kenney, right, executive director of the Newcomb College Institute, mentors women in leadership at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, during a visit in June. (Photo from Beth Wee)

“Newcomb shares a deep affinity with this university,” reports Kenney, who says the four Pakistani women’s universities, like Newcomb College at Tulane, originated out of familial concern for educating women and men together. “We have a lot in common and can benefit from working together,” Kenney says.  

Fatima Jinnah Women University wants to develop its faculty through postdoctoral and doctoral study, and the first faculty visitor to Tulane is expected in 2014.

Kenney, with Tulane colleagues Beth Wee from the School of Science and Engineering and Agnieszka Nance from the Center for Public Service, also participated in a seminar on service learning for faculty, staff and students, toured the campus, and visited an orphanage where FJWU students tutor girls.  

Kenney says she and her Tulane colleagues forged close relationships with the women faculty, administrators and students and there were tears when it was time for goodbyes.  

“We could not have been welcomed more warmly,” Kenney says.  “All the people we met wanted us to convey that Pakistan is safe and a good place to visit, and are troubled by the media’s exclusive coverage of political violence.”

Kenney hopes to return to Pakistan soon to train faculty and students in case-study teaching and writing about women’s leadership. 

Students are still building on the relationships made during the two visits. Newcomb Scholar Gabriella Runnels, in the Tulane class of 2016, met the Pakistani delegation on their visit to Tulane in March, and created a Facebook group that keeps everyone in touch. Future goals include the creation of a semester-long exchange program for students, as well as summer internships for Tulane students working with FJWU’s community partners.

Aidan Smith is external affairs officer for the Newcomb College Institute.

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