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Academic Staff

About Amideast Faculty in Jordan:

Students enrolled in AMIDEAST’s Education Abroad Program in Amman will have opportunities to study a diverse number of topics related to the Middle East and North Africa in a program based at AMIDEAST’s facilities in Amman. AMIDEAST Education Abroad Program courses are taught by a select group of professors from a variety of institutions in and around Amman. These lecturers possess a strong instructional experience in English-speaking environments. All faculty members have received post-graduate degrees from North American or European universities, or have spent considerable time at English-medium institutions as students, faculty members, visiting faculty or visiting researchers.

Dr. Sara Ababneh (Academic Coordinator)

Dr. Sara Ababneh is an assistant professor and researcher at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, where she coordinates the internship program and the Arab Barometer. Dr. Ababneh taught courses on Middle Eastern politics, gender, and international relations theory at the University of Jordan and at various colleges at the University of Oxford. In addition, she served as the faculty host of the CIEE Interdisciplinary Faculty Development Seminar entitled “Jordan: Women and Gender in Light of the Arab Spring” in the summer of 2013. After receiving a BSc in Politics and Economics from Earlham College in Indiana and an MScEcon in International Politics, at the University of Wales, Aberystywth, Dr. Ababneh earned her DPhil in Politics and International Relations at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford in 2009.  Her dissertation was a study of female Islamists in Hamas in occupied Palestine and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. Currently she is studying the popular Jordanian protest movement (al hirak al shabi al urduni), the Jordanian Personal Status Law reform in terms of gender and class, and EU-Jordanian Relations.

Dr. Khaled Abuamsha (Arabic Studies Consultant)

Dr. Khaled Abuamsha is Academic Director for Modern Standard Arabic at the Qasid Arabic Institute and serves as Qasid's point-person to provide Arabic language guidance for all AMIDEAST programs. Since 1997 Dr. Abuamsha has been teaching and giving lectures at various academic institutions, including the International Islamic University in Malaysia, the University of Jordan, and Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he was a visiting professor at the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages for most of 2012. Dr. Abuamsha holds a PhD in curriculum development and methods of teaching Arabic as a second language and is finishing his second PhD in linguistics. His research interests include proficiency measurement, methods of foreign language teaching, teacher training, foreign language program evaluation and curriculum design. He has written more than twenty books and papers and participated in several international conferences pertaining to Arabic teaching and linguistics.

Ms. Mjriam Abu Samra (Area Studies Professor)

Mjriam Abu Samra is a doctoral researcher in International Relations at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Her work focuses on Palestinian Transnational Student Movements and their contribution to the broader Liberation Movement through different political periods. She previously completed her Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Recently, Ms. Abu Samra has been based in Amman, Jordan, where she is completing research and writing. She has lectured in Theories of Development for the Faculty of Politics and International Studies of University of Jordan. Along with her teaching experience, Ms. Abu Samra has also written a number of articles and spoken at seminars on Middle Eastern politics.

Dr. Samira al-Khawaldeh (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. al-Khawaldeh graduated from Manchester University, UK, with Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and from the University of Jordan with Ph.D. in English Literature. She also holds a MA in English Literature from Leeds University, UK and a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Jordan. At the University of Jordan Dr. Samira al-Khawaldeh is an associate professor of English literature in the Faculty of Foreign Languages. Through a joint appointment, she also serves as an associate professor of Contemporary Islamic in the Faculty of Shari’ah. Dr. al-Khawaldeh has previously worked at other universities in Jordan and held several holding administrative posts in addition to teaching responsibilities. Dr. al-Khawaldeh’s research work is interdisciplinary and attempts to highlight the meeting points between civilizations. 

Dr. Hala Fattah (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. Hala Fattah is an assistant professor in the Gulf Studies program at Qatar University, where she has taught since 2013. She earned her Ph.D. in Modern Middle Eastern History from the University of California at Los Angeles, after which she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the Social Science Research Council to revise her dissertation on the Gulf regional economy for publication. In 1997, SUNY Press in Albany, NY published Dr. Fattah’s dissertation as The Politics of Regional Trade in Iraq, Arabia and the Gulf. Additionally, Dr. Fattah has served three terms on the editorial board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies. She holds master’s degrees in Modern Middle Eastern History and Library and Information Sciences, as well as a B.A. in European History. From 1990 to 1993, she served as visiting professor at Georgetown University, where she taught courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Middle Eastern history, Arab culture, and the development of technology in the Middle East. Recent publications include work on the Iraqi monarchy, Iraq before Saddam Hussein, and Iraqi universities and libraries. Dr. Fattah is a dual Iraqi-American national, and is fluent in English, Arabic, and French.

Ms. Samar Halabi (Arabic Coordinator and Arabic Instructor)

Ms. Samar Halabi has been teaching students of various ages since 1997. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Jordan in 1988 and began her teaching career with children as a playgroup kindergarten and primary teacher. Her experience in teaching the Arabic language began in 2006 as a teacher at the International Community School, where she tutored students the Arabic language as a second language and helped integrate students with special needs into the curriculum as she was studying to get her M.A in special education. Halabi went on to become a teacher at the Berlitz Center in Amman, where she not only taught and planned lessons, but also took part in interviews, conducted placement tests, and tested and graded the students for their final reports. For a short time, Halabi returned to teaching at the International Community School as a teacher, where she taught Arabic as a first and a second language and helped in establishing a solid curriculum. She began working at the Qasid Arabic Institute in 2011 as an Arabic Language Instructor and supervisor for AMIDEAST Arabic courses. She teaches Arabic for non-native speakers at all proficiency levels, including Jordanian Colloquial and Media Arabic. Most of all appreciates and respects diversity and has a strong passion for teaching which shows in her day to day classes.

Ms. Rochelle Johnston (Area Studies Professor)

Ms. Johnston is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She has worked for 15 years with communities affected by violence and discrimination, focusing particularly on the agency of young people. Her work with a variety of UN agencies, NGOs, and governments has taken her throughout Eastern Africa, the Middle East, and across her own country, Canada. In this work, Ms. Johnston has contributed her skills as a researcher, advocate, coordinator, facilitator, and popular educator. To try and understand and influence underlying causes of the violence, Ms. Johnston uses her own position, as a woman of European descent living in a settler colonial state and participating in the (neo)colonizing work of humanitarian and international development, as an entry point.  Her current research in Canada and Sudan is on standing by and doing nothing in the face of colonial genocide. She is also co-editing a book on Indigenous approaches to research and has taught a course on theories of human rights at the University of Jordan. Ms. Johnston’s BA from Smith College focused on Arab and Muslim feminisms and her M.Ed. from Harvard University on adolescent risks and resiliency.  

Dr. Yusuf Mansur (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. Yusuf Mansur is an economist with over 25 years of experience in theoretical and practical research. He earned a PhD in economics from the University of Oklahoma and taught at Texas A&M University before returning to Jordan to teach at various Jordanian universities. He then joined the government first as a Telecom Privatization Adviser, then as founder of the National Competitiveness Team, Aid Coordination Unit and Technical Support Unit (trade negotiation support) at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. He then was appointed Director General of the Telecom Regulatory Commission, and subsequently served as a policy and institutional support advisor with the EC-Jordan, as the United Nations Development Program’s Resident Representative, and as Director General of Jordan Investment Board and Jordan Agency for Investment and Economic Development. Dr. Mansur is currently CEO of the Envision Consulting Group, which he established in 2004, a regional economic and management consulting firm. He also serves as industry upgrading, trade and export promotion adviser working in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Syria. In addition, Dr. Mansur is a columnist in English and Arabic for several local and regional publications commenting on development and local/regional economic issues. He has written two books and several refereed articles.

Dr. Mahmoud Na'amneh (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. Mahmoud Na'amneh is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan. He earned his BA in English Language from Yarmouk University, Jordan; his MA in anthropology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; and his PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Na'amneh's research interests focus on national identity, globalization, cultural heritage, and collective memory in the Middle East. He has participated in a number of research projects on various socio-cultural phenomena in the Jordanian society. 

Dr. Omar Rifai (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. Omar Rifai is Director of Arab Affairs in the United Nations office in Amman.  He is a career diplomat, having served in Jordan's embassies in London, Bern, New York and Washington and as Jordan’s Ambassador to Israel, Egypt, the Arab League and Italy. He also was the Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry and twice as the President of the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy. He received his undergraduate education at Harvard University with a Bachelor's degree in Government, his Master's from Georgetown University in History, and his PhD in International Relations from the American University.

Dr. Amal Sabbagh (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. Amal Sabbagh earned her PhD in Social Policy and Administration from the University of Nottingham in 1997.  The following year, she became Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, where she worked to eliminate gender discrimination in government policies, legislation, and national development plans.  Dr. Sabbagh is interested in equity and empowerment issues of marginalized groups, especially women, the poor and rural populations.  Since 2005, she has worked as a consultant across the Middle East and North Africa, including at the Arab Women Organization in Egypt, the Collective for Research and Training for Development-Action in Lebanon, the UN Development Programme Country Office in Algeria, the King Khaled Foundation in Saudi Arabia, and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development.  Dr. Sabbagh has served on the Jordanian delegations for various international conferences, and she headed the delegation for the the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Women.  She is currently the Chairperson of the Princess Basma Award for Development and Social Work Committee, and previously served on the board of trustees of the National Centre for Human Rights.

Dr. Mohammed Shunnaq (Area Studies Professor)

Dr. Mohammed Shunnaq is a professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Yarmouk University who specializes in ethno-archaeology and tribal structure.  Dr. Shunnaq first became a lecturer at Yarmouk University in 1992.  Since then, he has become a full professor, founded the Department of Cultural Resources Management, and established master’s degree programs in Cultural Anthropology and Tourism.  Dr. Shunnaq earned his PhD at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where he later returned as a visiting professor.  Dr. Shunnaq is also the President of the Jordanian Anthropological Association and the Co-director of the Northern Jordan Village Project.  He has served as a specialist and consultant to various agencies, as a Fulbright Researcher, and as Director of the Jordan Valley Project.  Dr. Shunnaq has published numerous works including Questioning Transjordan's Historic Desertification:  A Critical Review of the Paradigm of 'Empty LandsCamels in Asia and North Africa: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on their Past and Present Significance, and the forthcoming Tourism and Local Community: the Case of Aqaba City.