My approach to diversity is to create spaces—in academia and beyond—that are inclusive and equitable to all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, religion, language, (dis)abilities, sexual orientation, veteran status, and other traits. My commitment to diversity is evident in my research, teaching, and acts of service.
Studies of race, ethnicity, and religion are central to my current research on sectarianism. I specifically examine how ethnic and sectarian narratives, ideologies, and identities affect the structuring of inequalities in the Middle East. I use Iraq as a case study to investigate the systemic politicization of identities and the ways in which it impacts people’s attitudes and behaviors. My interdisciplinary research combines theories and methods from sociology, social psychology, political science, anthropology, international relations, and history and examines sources published in English, Arabic, and Kurdish. Stereotyped beliefs about the Middle East have arguably promoted negative behaviors toward Muslims and other descendants from the Middle East. Thus, I use research to educate others, whether through my publications, presentations, or course curricula, to demonstrate the strength and power of diversity and inclusion but also to shape a positive and accurate narrative of Iraq and the larger region.
Beyond research, my contributions to diversity and inclusion manifests in my teaching. I have studied and taught in different institutions in Iraq, Italy, and the United States. These experiences have exposed me to ways of being and teaching that have dramatically changed my approach to engaging a diverse range of students. These experiences have also better equipped me to address the impact inequities have on students. For example, while teaching at Motlow State Community, I had students who were single mothers and others who lacked motivation to participate in class. In addition to redesigning the syllabus in a way that kept students motivated and engaged, I provided extra support to struggling students by tutoring them during my office hours, connecting them with campus tutoring centers, and regularly communicating with their completion coaches or faculty advisors.
During my time as a doctoral student at Michigan State University, two of my colleagues founded Sociology Students of Color (SSOC), a support group for Black, Indigenous, and People of color (BIPOC) and international students. As one of the first members to join the group, I was able to participate in mutual support and share information about professional opportunities that are often difficult to navigate in a predominantly white institution. Through this community, my colleagues and I have been able to able to fulfill unique professional goals, including co-authoring an essay titled “Reclaiming Space: The Narratives of Female Doctoral Students of Color” that was published in Women, Gender, and Families of Color.
Inspired by students, colleagues, and mentors with whom I have interacted in various institutions over the past decade, I continuously strive to become a better educator—one who is attentive to issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I seek to take the lessons I have learned thus far and apply them to further support diversity and inclusivity in academia and beyond.