BEIRUT: Students and teachers were among the first groups to join the Lebanese protests when the revolution erupted and the uproar of dissent became thunderous, and now that classes have resumed, many educators are incorporating the events of the demonstrations into their academic syllabi to express their support.
The purpose of this academic shift is to help students gain a deeper understanding of Lebanon’s current political ambiance while supporting their desire to keep attending the demonstrations.
“I always allow my students to voice their opinions as I guide them to do so constructively. I want them to not necessarily accept what others say, but definitely respect it,” expressed Nabilah Haraty, assistant professor of oral communication and English at the Lebanese American University.
She also added that each of her sessions starts with 10-15 minutes of discussion so that her students can share their feelings and points of view in a judgment-free environment.
Shireen Kasamani, one of Haraty’s students, told Annahar: “I admire my professor because she’s been very supportive of students who are protesting. She even asked what we desire to see as an outcome of this revolution and has allowed us to base our speeches on the events observed on the Lebanese streets.”
Rana Younis, another student, highlighted how her ethics professor stopped using the book and instead asked his students to present a research paper describing how different ethical approaches would be used to evaluate the revolution.
Students believe that the process of learning is enhanced when they can apply theories to realistic scenarios like protest sites. This initiative has allowed them to turn the protests into their libraries where knowledge and activism meet.
A literature professor at the American University of Beirut also decided to alter the course syllabus to include some classic political novels like George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
“I want my students to understand that literature is not about reading boring books; it’s rather a manifestation of events observed in their daily lives, and what could be better than dystopian novels to make them comprehend their country’s political turmoil?” the professor said.
Zeinab Ibrahim, an AUB student, said that “the changes made by some professors have enabled the students to keep protesting without worrying about dense course material and accumulating assignments.”
She then explained to Annahar that by being able to link a course’s content to the events of the revolution, she has become more engrossed in the lessons and more inquisitive as both a student and an activist.
Laura-Joy Boulos, a psychology professor at USJ, mentioned that she has engaged in several classroom discussions with her students to examine the protests and their psychological effects on individuals, for it’s essential to understand how intense emotions like fear, uncertainty, and hope can impact the human psyche and brain.
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