Speakers: Rana Dajani

Dr. Dajani is an assistant professor in molecular biology in the faculty of science at the Hashemite University in Jordan. Dr. Dajani is a Fulbright scholar and a Howard Hughes pre-doctoral award nominee during her PhD. Dr. Dajani teaches in an unorthodox way. She is the first person to introduce teaching using Problem Based Learning (PBL) in Jordan. She uses it in all her courses. She has participated in conferences discussing implementation of PBL in the Arab World and gave lectures at her university to new faculty encouraging them to use PBL as a tool of instruction.

She also uses drama as a tool in teaching. Her students act out microtubule movement and DNA replication in class. She also coordinated two major plays one about receptor mediated endocytosis and DNA replication which were presented at the scientific day at the university by her students. No one has ever done plays in such a manner. The plays not only explain the scientific concepts, but also discuss community matters and are comedies. She presented her works at the creativity conference in Ireland in 2010. Teaching Biology and its relation to society. Dr. Dajani introduces many social concepts through Biology by relating biological concepts to the real world, responsibility, division of labor, decentralization etc. her lectures are pure enjoyment for her students. She includes movies and novels as teaching tools to relate theory to practice. She believes education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.

Dr. Dajani’s belief in creating students to become responsible citizens to build the country made her look for ways to change the teaching process and the students at her university. She set out on a mission in 2006 to introduce service learning into Jordan though her university. It took her 3 years with unrelenting passion to obtain a grant from TEMPUS in the amount of 880,000 Euros to establish a service-learning center in Jordan at the Hashemite University. Many challenges were overcome from university officials not realizing the importance of service-learning, to being declined by TEMPUS and applying again. She never takes no for an answer if she believes this is what is needed. The grant is also an example of teamwork with 9 universities, 4 from Europe, 3 from Jordan and 2 from Lebanon.

In terms of serving the community, Dr. Dajani has initiated a social innovation called We Love Reading (WLR). We Love Reading exists to positively impact children throughout Jordan by creating a library in local neighborhoods, thereby actively encouraging each community to share in the experience of storytelling, and creating a life-long enthusiasm for each child to read and acquire knowledge. Starting in 2006 Dr. Dajani has trained 400 women how to read aloud and established 100 libraries throughout Jordan. These libraries serve 4000 children. Her model has spread to Turkey, UAE, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. She won the Synergos award for the Arab World Social Innovators in 2009 and was nominated for “Ahel Alhimmeh”, an award hosted by Queen Rania Al-Abdullah for recognizing community volunteer efforts in Jordan in 2009. Dr. Dajani was invited to the Clinton Global Initiative to present her work. She made a commitment to open an additional 100 libraries over the next 5 years in Jordan.