GW Research Spring 2014 Edition

"I Am Malala" Comes to Classrooms

At the announcement of the I Am Malala curriculum development, in October, students and faculty members gathered in support of activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban. (Photo: Jessica McConnell Burt.)
May 01, 2014

Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai has become a symbol of peace and hope to millions around the world. The youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize nominee has campaigned since the age of 11 for the education rights of girls and was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for making her voice heard.

Now GW’s Global Women’s Institute is bringing her story into the classroom, hoping it will deepen students’ understanding of women’s rights issues and inspire activism.

As the educational partner of the Malala Fund—a nonprofit that works to ensure girls’ access to education—GWI-affiliated faculty members will work with publisher Little, Brown and Co. to develop a university-level curriculum to accompany Ms. Yousafzai’s 2013 memoir, I Am Malala.

The curriculum will focus on themes such as the importance of a woman’s voice, how education empowers women, global feminism, and political extremism, and will encourage students to take action through service learning and advocacy.

“Malala’s courageous campaign for girls’ education is an inspiration to all,” says GWI Director Mary Ellsberg. “We are honored to serve as the Malala Fund’s educational partner and to work with Little, Brown and Co. to develop a curriculum that will not only educate students but spark the very activism Malala stands for.”

The curriculum will be made available to faculty members and students around the world at no cost beginning in mid-2014. At GW, it will be created by an interdisciplinary group from the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Elliott School of International Affairs, the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and the University Writing Program.

“We’d like to encourage college students and eventually high school students to get involved, to facilitate dialogues among various groups, and to influence public opinion,” says Michele Clark, an adjunct professor in international affairs who is among those working on the project.