“As a white man who values cultural diversity, I want to be involved in a pedagogy that empowers people that may otherwise be dis-empowered.” -Dr. Nat Godley
Dr. Nat Godley remembers arriving at Alverno College in the summer of 2011, the same time the Islamic Resource Center opened it’s doors for the first time. A Middle East historian who did his dissertation on the colonization of North Africa, his experience with Muslims goes back many years. Born and raised in the UK, one of his friends and roommates during his undergraduate studies was a British Muslim, the child of Pakistani-Indian immigrant parents.
After undergraduate studies, Godley completed his Master’s at the University of Lille in France, France has a large number of North African Muslims, coming from countries that had once been under French colonialist rule. He came to the United States to complete his PhD studies, graduating from the University of Iowa.
Dr. Godley was drawn to Alverno College for a number of reasons; “I like the pedagogical structure of the abilities. I’ve always taught for skills rather than purely for content so having an institutional structure that supports that is very helpful to me. I also like that it is a women’s college. Research has shown that in co-educational classes, women are less likely to speak up and advocate for themselves. As a white man who values cultural diversity, I want to be involved in a pedagogy that empowers people that may otherwise be dis-empowered.”
Situated relatively close to Alverno, every semester, Dr. Godley’s students make three trips to the Islamic Resource Center, he believes it is important for his students “to see a diverse and empowered group of Muslim women because it breaks stereotypes of what women are like culturally as well as the social position of Muslim women.” Each visit involves a request for a panel or a group discussion around a topic being addressed in class or a book that is being read about Muslims.
Besides the institutional goals of the class, Dr. Godley hopes that his students will become better global citizens. That they will have a better understanding of how stereotypes about particular groups form and how incorrect and dangerous that can be. This experience of visiting a Muslim institution will also make them aware of resources in the local community that can help them understand the community better.
“I really appreciate the other community work the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition is involved in, whether it is outreach, the film festival, lectures, it is an incredibly valuable resource for the Milwaukee community and not just teachers like me.”