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Faculty Spotlight: Carol Riphenburg

Carol Riphenburg

Carol Riphenburg
Department: Political Science

Carol Riphenburg, who has taught at College of DuPage since 1989, was studying in France during an undergraduate junior year abroad and wanted to learn a non-Western language.

Because France had colonies in the Middle East and Africa, she chose to study Arabic and received a fellowship to do so at the American University in Cairo. Since then, Riphenburg has become an expert on the Middle East and Central Asia, and her research has been exhaustive.

"Learning Arabic was a challenge, but that's what I liked most about it," she said. "I hope to involve students in the excitement of taking on challenging projects. Furthermore, international education is going to be the primary means by which we are able to span the cultural and linguistic gaps that exist not only within our country, but also globally. Without an appreciation for other cultures, other languages, and comparative politics and national histories, students will not be able to serve as effective global leaders in a complex world. To compete in the international marketplace and contribute to positive global interaction, students need to have a better understanding of and appreciation for other people, other cultures, other religions and other geographies."

In 1998, Riphenburg published the book, “Oman: Political Development in a Changing World,” and followed that with multiple articles and contributions, including “Afghanistan’s Constitution: Success or Sham” for the Middle East Policy Council in 2005 and “Women for Afghan Women: Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future” for the Middle East Women’s Studies Review.

Riphenburg has received three Fulbright awards that have returned her overseas – the first to Zimbabwe for a group project addressing the country’s structural adjustment program, and the second to study in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. In 2012, Riphenburg worked with Economics and Political Science faculty members at Cairo University on her project, “Women and Political Participation in Egypt: Opportunities and Encumbrances for Women Following the January 25 Revolution.”

“Egypt is the most populous Arabic nation, and I wanted to be there at this time of fateful change,” she said. “It’s especially important for me to tell the story of Egyptian women and what they are experiencing during this time of political upheaval.”

During her most recent Fulbright trip, Riphenburg interviewed women in universities and nongovernmental organizations. She is sharing their stories with her COD students.

“I hope to achieve a better understanding of how Arabic women are participating in the region’s momentous changes and fighting to get into the power structure,” she said. "Learning other languages and about other peoples and culture can be a lifelong journey as it has been for me. I started learning Arabic on my own in a small town in Wisconsin, continued it in college and graduate college, as well as at the American University in Cairo.

"That knowledge has equipped me to do research in the Middle East throughout my career and gave me the tools to return last fall on a Fulbright grant to witness the unfolding of the Arab Spring in Egypt. I have enjoyed every step of the way and wish to impart that enthusiasm to my students."

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