Dual Degree Student Studies Gender and Islam in Malaysia

Dec 21

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011 9:30 AM  RssIcon

Visit Wesley during the small semester and likely you will quickly learn to recognize the Master of Theological Studies students in their final semesters of seminary education. These are the students who, on top of normal class work, are in the midst of writing final MTS capstone papers, and so may be spotted scurrying from class to class or off to the library, coffee shop, or other favorite study spot with the slightly distracted air of having something important on their mind.
Crystal Corman is one such MTS student, though she is even busier than most. Crystal is pursuing a second Masters – a Master of Arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University, through the dual-degree program. And there’s the fact that Crystal is also readjusting to life in the states after spending a year doing fieldwork and research in Malaysia.
Crystal Corman was a 2010 recipient of the David L. Boren Fellowship, which provided her the opportunity and funding to spend twelve months – from August 2010 to August 2011–studying Islam and gender in Southeast Asia. 
Crystal came to Wesley and American University with an interest in studying the role of religious leaders as local peace builders. She had already spent a year in Southeast Asia, in Thailand, teaching English through the Young Adult in Global Mission program of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. After starting her masters programs, she returned to the region through an AU summer abroad program for 10 weeks in 2009 as an intern at a women’s rights non-governmental organization in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Crystal’s experience in Southeast Asia motivates her interest in the intersection of gender, religion, and peace building. The Boren Fellowship funded her travel to Malaysia to conduct research for her thesis regarding the participation and leadership of Muslim women in Malaysia's various Islamic institutions. "Though many women in Malaysia are successful in business and have access to higher education, men continue to dominate religious leadership. I wanted to meet and interview the few Muslim women who have risen to positions of respect in Islamic institutions to learn their story about gender relations in Islam and its decision-making processes," she says.

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