At first the goal – to use a course that focused on training leaders to help a ruined city – seemed small in the face of daunting challenges. The horrendous war had torn Mosul apart, with thousands displaced, many dead or missing.
Surrendering to those difficulties would have been easier, but the dream of restoring our city made us believe that even the smallest steps would make a difference. The first step to the city’s restoration was not in Iraq but in Jordan, when a group of Iraqi university professors, myself included, and some civil society members enrolled in a course titled “Leadership Academy for Development – Training of Trainers” (LAD-TOT). This program was facilitated by CIPE in coordination with the Democracy, Development and Rule of Law program at Stanford University and with the American University in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. Taking place from March 11 to March 16, 2018, this program aimed to teach professors how to be effective teachers and instructors to the next generation of decision-makers. This sounded like exactly what we needed to be doing if we wanted to start rebuilding our once-great city.
The first fruits of this course were harvested in the classroom when we began to implement the teaching skills that we’d acquired from the LAD-TOT course. Using the case study-based teaching method that we had learned, we taught a first-year undergraduate Introduction to Political Science course. This new method included asking multi-part questions, cold calling on students, targeting those who are appeared inactive or uninterested in class, as well as pushing shy students to participate more in the discussion and analysis of case studies. We found that these methods helped partially rid them of shyness and reduced overall confusion in the classroom, while also encouraged a spirit of competition to earn higher marks. When using these new teaching tools, the rate of students who passed increased from 45% in the first course to 86% in the second course, thanks to the correct application of the skills we acquired from the LAD-TOT program.
After watching the success that the application of these new teaching techniques had in the classroom, the next step was to set up a course that would instruct a group of young teachers and trainers who lacked sufficient experience in using the case study method, as well as a group of the university’s alumni. In this course, we presented the selected samples from the LAD-TOT course’s case study collection. The course produced useful results that were documented through reports and photos taken at the event.
As the first course ended and the new academic year began, we put these skills into action with postgraduate students. We adopted the case study method for the more complex subjects we were teaching the students, including the study of international conflict. For this course, we used examples of different types of conflicts, including those over access to critical resources like water, energy, and food. In addition to studying the actions of world powers, we used deep analysis and discussion of the case studies to understand the more specific cause-and-effect relationships that led to the rise of these conflicts.
The results of this course were encouraging: out of 12 students, 5 earned an A+, 6 earned an A, and 1 student received a B. These results were much higher than in other courses that covered the same subject matter but did not use the case study teaching method. Beyond the success shown by the high marks of the students, the teaching method proved to be so effective and popular that the students wanted the case study method to be used in all their classes. Following up on this feedback, we are now planning on implementing it in all graduate and postgraduate courses.
To further our own education, CIPE invited us to participate in a course at the American University in Sulaymaniyah from August 25-30, 2018. The course was taught by American scholar Dr. Francis Fukuyama, one of the most distinguished political science theorists living today. This course was more impactful than previous ones thanks to the presence of experts like Dr. Fukuyama and the nature of the lectures we received, all of which provided the basis for stimulating discussion and greatly contributed to the development of our leadership abilities.
Upon the successful completion of the experiment, the Dean of the College, Dr. Ahmed Fakak Ahmad, in cooperation with the Iraqi Businessmen’s Union (IBMU) Nineveh branch, expressed the college’s desire to continue teaching these courses. We held a second course for professors from Mosul University, Northern Technical University, governmental employees, and IBMU-Nineveh members. The course included a discussion of case studies from around the world and presented the analysis and results of the studies in an interactive manner which led to great conversation, and sometimes debate, amongst all the participants. They presented four ideas that will become case studies focused on the city of Mosul, in addition to using new tools like stakeholder analysis, as well as harnessing increased class participation and discussion to create plans for the recovery of Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh province. The goal that once seemed so small in the face of such large issues was beginning to provide the big ideas needed to rebuild a destroyed city.
Using this new teaching style, not only are new ideas emerging to serve as a blueprint to save our long-suffering city, it will also allow for the creation of the bold, brave, and effective leaders we need to implement said ideas and lead what will be an extensive and arduous reconstruction process. The road may be long, but the LAD courses are an important starting point.
Dr. Adnan Khalaf Hamid Badrani is a professor of International Relations at the College of Political Science at Mosul University.
Spencer Newland, Program Associate for the Middle East and North Africa at CIPE, helped as an editor.