Faculty to bring story of 16-year-old Pakistani activist Malala into classrooms

The University will help bring the story of the 16-year-old Pakistani activist who nearly won a Nobel Peace Prize into classrooms around the world.

Faculty will spend the next few months creating a curriculum centered around the memoir of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman in October 2012.

Professors will be able to use parts of the curriculum in history, geography, religion and women’s studies classes that they already teach. It will include video clips – possibly of interviews with Yousafzai herself – that explain key political or cultural issues related to her education advocacy and her life in Pakistan.

The Global Women’s Institute announced the initiative Monday, receiving national coverage for the celebrated activist. Mary Ellsberg, director of the institute, said the program would zero in on “how education empowers women, global feminism and youth activism.” The institute plans to create a similar curriculum for high school students after piloting one at GW.

Michelle Clark, a lecturer in the Elliott School of International Affairs, is helping shape the curriculum, which will use Yousafazai’s experiences as a lens for studying some of the “greatest” issues of this century, she said.

“Educators can talk about theory, but when you have a real person at the core, you know there’s this opportunity to take it right out and into your classes,” Clark said.

The curriculum will create a website to help students envision the environment Yousafzai grew up in through interactive maps and pictures of different cities.

Clark said the University’s announcement put a spotlight on the pilot program, which partners with the book’s publisher and the non-profit Malala Fund.

The curriculum will include materials GW professors can use in their classes on campus, as well as an online component which will be publically available. Clark said Yousafzai’s story is relatable since “she’s like every girl.”

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