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Religious and Cultural Clashes in the Modern World: Understanding Latent Issues of Middle Eastern Wives
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Wives of graduate students from Middle Eastern countries who are accompanying their husbands in studies at universities in the United States (U.S.) are an invisible group that is capable of tremendous influence during their time in the U.S. and upon returning to their home countries. The prospect of empowering them to exercise leadership has potentially important implications on future economic, food, environmental, and world security issues. This thesis sheds light on contemporary development issues regarding gender inequality in the Middle East and brings religious and cultural factors causing friction in the global security context to the forefront of not only academia and scholarly discussion but also public awareness. It is based on a phenomenological qualitative study of the wives of Ph.D. students from the Middle East at TAMU. It illuminates the challenges the wives face as a result of the overwhelming shift from war torn home countries to a democratic society. Ten challenges were identified: a) Language Barrier, b) Affordable Childcare, c) Identity, d) Healthcare, e) Education, f) No Income, g) Transportation, h) Entertainment, i) Halaal Foods, and j) Religious Imposition and other latent issues. Contemporary development issues in gender inequality identified in this research serve as the foundation for a practical application course designed by a joint effort of the Bush School of Government and Public Service and the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications (ALEC) for graduate students interested in development careers. In the course, students will assess the challenges facing Middle Eastern wives of Ph.D. students at TAMU and propose solutions to remedy these challenges by empowering these women, within their cultural limitations. The intent of this research is to pave the way for several capstone courses where informed students will find plausible solutions for the challenges that emerge from this research. The need for such courses is evident because there are few capstone courses offered in development work at the Bush School and ALEC. The importance and emphasis of these courses will be in identifying local issues with international scope, where students will gain experience in understanding and addressing cultural challenges. This research will have great impact and utility within academia by producing successful evidence-based programs for a more peaceful and prosperous world.
Thompson, Shiva (2016). Religious and Cultural Clashes in the Modern World: Understanding Latent Issues of Middle Eastern Wives. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from