Clemson professor focuses on Libya’s higher education future
CLEMSON — In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Middle Eastern countries are working to restructure civil institutions from the bottom up. A key component of their future democracies is the future of higher education, and Clemson University is playing a role in helping one country make vital policy decisions about its students and universities.
Darren L. Linvill, assistant professor of communication studies, joined colleagues from around the world to discuss the future of Libya’s educational system. He participated in a five-day higher education dialogue, “Expanding Opportunities for Libyan Higher Education,” hosted by the Hollings Center for International Dialogue in Istanbul, Turkey. He was one of five scholars from U.S. institutions.
“Since the start of the Arab Spring and the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has faced great challenges in building a new nation,” Linvill said. “The university system in particular was neglected under the 42-year Qaddafi regime, having to fight an uphill battle against international isolation, cronyism and a lack of basic pedagogical resources that we take for granted at universities like Clemson.
“Adding to preexisting hurdles is ongoing conflict between militias in many regions and a lack of essential legal frameworks to operate within. While there are many challenges, the end of the dictatorship also opens up great opportunities for higher education and intellectual freedom.”
The Hollings Center for International Dialogue is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization dedicated to fostering dialogue between the United States and countries with predominantly Muslim populations. The center hosts topic-specific dialogues to generate new thinking on important international issues and deepening networks of communication between opinion-leaders and experts. “Expanding Opportunities for Libyan Higher Education” engaged experts from around the world, including Libya, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.
Linvill and his colleagues in Istanbul explored such issues as international cooperation and exchange with Libyan higher education, education and the Libyan economy, and improving Libyan curriculum and assessment.
“The Hollings Center did an excellent job putting together a group with diverse experiences and expertise and fostering an environment within which meaningful conversation could occur,” said Linvill. “Dialogues with the international community are valuable as they can give institutions the tools they need to implement important potential changes. I was particularly impressed with our Libyan colleagues at the conference. Speaking to them about the challenges they face day-to-day, in and out of the classroom, helped me build a great deal of perspective.”
Linvill’s research interests are related to communication in higher education, both in the classroom and at the institutional level. He has both a personal and professional interest in Libyan higher education as he had family working at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli before, during and after the Libyan revolution in 2011. Since then, he has written about issues related to Libyan higher education post-revolution for “The Harvard International Review” and “Inside Higher Education’s Global Blog.” His work has included interviews with several Libyan students studying at Clemson.