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The American University of Beirut

The American University of Beirut

Betty S. Anderson
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  • Book Info
    The American University of Beirut
    Book Description:

    Since the American University of Beirut opened its doors in 1866, the campus has stood at the intersection of a rapidly changing American educational project for the Middle East and an ongoing student quest for Arab national identity and empowerment. Betty S. Anderson provides a unique and comprehensive analysis of how the school shifted from a missionary institution providing a curriculum in Arabic to one offering an English-language American liberal education extolling freedom of speech and analytical discovery.

    Anderson discusses how generations of students demanded that they be considered legitimate voices of authority over their own education; increasingly, these students sought to introduce into their classrooms the real-life political issues raging in the Arab world. The Darwin Affair of 1882, the introduction of coeducation in the 1920s, the Arab nationalist protests of the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the even larger protests of the 1970s all challenged the Americans and Arabs to fashion an educational program relevant to a student body constantly bombarded with political and social change. Anderson reveals that the two groups chose to develop a program that combined American goals for liberal education with an Arab student demand that the educational experience remain relevant to their lives outside the school's walls. As a result, in eras of both cooperation and conflict, the American leaders and the students at the school have made this American institution of the Arab world and of Beirut.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-73498-2
    Subjects: History, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 ADMINISTRATORS AND STUDENTS Agency and the Educational Process
    (pp. 1-24)

    “The great value of education does not consist in the accepting this and that to be true but it consists in proving this and that to be true,” declared Daniel Bliss, founder of Syrian Protestant College (SPC; 1866–1920) and its president from 1866 to 1902, in his farewell address.¹ President Howard Bliss (president, 1902–1920) said in his baccalaureate sermon in 1911, “In a word, the purpose of the College is not to produce singly or chiefly men who are doctors, men who are pharmacists, men who are merchants, men who are preachers, teachers, lawyers, editors, statesmen; but it...

  5. 2 THE UNITY OF TRUTH Classical and Liberal Educational Systems
    (pp. 25-55)

    The first prospectus written for the future Syrian Protestant College (SPC) declared that the school would be “conducted on strictly christian [sic] and evangelical principles”; its 1871 catalogue confirmed, “This college was established in order to provide for Syria and its surrounding areas higher education in the mathematical and literary sciences and that it would be in their language.”¹ The school’s leaders registered the program with the state of New York under “An Act for the Incorporation of Benevolent, Charitable, Scientific, and Missionary Societies.”² As per the original documents, a board of trustees was set up in New York while...

  6. 3 MAKING MEN Religion, Education, and Character Building
    (pp. 56-89)

    At the 1904 inauguration of a statue sculpted in his likeness and commissioned by Egyptian and Sudanese graduates of Syrian Protestant College, Daniel Bliss (1866–1902) declared, “No block of marble was brought to us to be worked upon, but living boys and living men came to us from the East, from the West, from the North and from the South, to be influenced for good. They were all human and consequently imperfect; they were all human and consequently capable of perfection.”¹ He continued, “As the workmen broke off from the block of marble all that surrounded this statue, so...

  7. 4 MAKING WOMEN The Goals of Coeducation
    (pp. 90-118)

    Coeducation began at the American University of Beirut in the fall 1921 semester, but as late as the 1950s, administrators and students on campus continued to question the validity and purpose of it. A reporter for Outlook could still see the need to ask of her fellow students in 1957, “Do you think women should be kept outside the campus?”¹ The answers reflect strong support for coeducation, with slight differences of opinion as to its purpose. One male student answered, “Besides offering her an opportunity for finding a valuable profession, a university education better equips a woman for her role...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. 5 STUDENT ACTIVISM The Struggle for Arab Nationalism
    (pp. 119-150)

    The 1952 April Fool’s Day issue of Outlook (called “Lookout” on that day) satirized the proliferation of student protests that had dominated campus life for the previous few years. In the paper’s lead article, the author declared, “A School of Revolutionary Government, designed to equip AUB students with a wide knowledge of modern techniques of conspiracy and revolution, is to be opened during the fall semester, a communique from the President’s Office announced late Friday.”¹ Continuing the same theme, the article reports, “All courses will include a minimum of three lab hours to be spent in street battles with gendarmes...

  10. 6 “GUERRILLA U” The Contested Nature of Authority
    (pp. 151-182)

    In October 1970, Newsweek magazine christened the American University of Beirut “Guerrilla U,” offering a vivid, if inaccurate, account of AUB student politics:

    Politics at AUB today is tied directly to the Palestine guerrilla movement. Many students belong to one of the guerrilla groups, mainly the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] and Al Fatah, and often spend their summers and weekends in commando training camps. Some students have even been accused of stealing chemicals from university laboratories to use in making explosives. Most of the recruiting for rebel organizations takes place at a student hangout called Feisal’s...

  11. 7 REBUILDING AUB Reaffirming Liberal Education
    (pp. 183-192)

    In 2004, AUB gained accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a voluntary, nongovernmental membership association. “Middle States accreditation instills public confidence in institutional mission, goals, performance, and resources through its rigorous accreditation standards and their enforcement”; the commission has accepted that AUB and the other accredited institutions in its roster “are fulfilling their stated purposes and addressing the publics’ expectations.”¹ To achieve this status, AUB’s administration and faculty undertook a three-year evaluation of the school’s strengths and future goals. The authors of the study recognized student pressure to abandon the American liberal educational structure in favor of...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 193-230)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-240)
  14. Index
    (pp. 241-254)