Researching the connection between archaeology and architecture in higher education in Jordan

April 28, 2022

Photo taken at the Applied Science Private University on October 3, 2021 during workshop titled “Assets Identification and Requirements Elicitation” conducted by
Dua’a Al-Maani and Shatha Mubaideen

The profession of archaeology has many facets that can contribute to a well-rounded education. The same can be said for the architectural profession. And both archaeology and architecture have elements in common—yet institutions of higher education in Jordan have been lax in connecting the two.

We became aware of the disconnection between these fields in higher education because Dua’a Al Maani and her colleague Shatha Mubaideen wanted to reveal the extent of issues associated with the current status of cultural heritage education at Jordanian universities. The lack of studies and resources on cultural heritage in higher education in Jordan, whether in humanities or engineering faculties, made the research they desired to do important.

Dua’a and Shatha wanted to understand Jordan’s landscape of cultural heritage pedagogical practices in higher education, as well as to explore if and how cultural heritage connects with study plans in departments of archaeology, architecture, and tourism in the country. Dua’a has a PhD in the field of architecture, with a special interest in education, and is an assistant professor at the Applied Science Private University in Amman. Shatha is an architect and researcher in the fields of cultural heritage and digital cultural heritage.

Dua’a and Shatha’s project was realized thanks to an award in 2021 of a grant through the American Center of Research’s USAID-funded Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project (SCHEP).

During the seven months of the award, the project went through three progressive stages. First, they collected more than fifty study plans from twenty-six public and private universities in Jordan to intensively review and analyze. After this, they undertook a literature review of a wide range of relevant research papers. Ten of these papers, from Jordan and beyond, were used and cited to support arguments in their study.

Next, they conducted two participatory workshops, “Assets Identification and Requirements Elicitation” and “Feedback on the Study Plan Analysis.” Twenty-three representatives from public universities, private universities, the Department of Antiquities (DoA), the American Center of Research, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), the Jordan University Museum, and the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) participated in the workshops and received certificates upon completion.

Dua’a and Shatha then collected further data through twenty semi-structured interviews with academics and researchers, covering southern, northern, and central Jordan. Half of the interviews were with members of architectural departments, and the other half with members of archaeology and tourism departments.

During the three stages of their project, Dua’a and Shatha were not working alone: the American Center’s grant enabled the hiring of a research assistant for three months. Architect Safa Joudeh was chosen from among thirteen applicants due to her experience in cultural heritage. Safa provided additional enthusiasm, and her dedication helped achieve the project outcomes.

With the data obtained through the study, Dua’a and Shatha believe that this pilot research has the potential to improve educational resources and, in turn, the outcomes of the education process in Jordan. They also believe that this research, if expanded, would have a long-term positive impact on the economies of local communities. This is why they published a policy paper with advice and recommendations for the academic community and decision makers.

As Dua’a Al Maani and Shatha Mubaideen’s project demonstrates, the American Center of Research’s continued support for individuals with vision and insight produces better integration of cultural and built heritage values in archaeology and architecture education.

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