Guest Scholar Kjell Vaage Discusses the Welfare State in Norway

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On April 7th, Prof. Kjell Vaage of the University of Bergen gave a campus-wide lecture addressing challenges facing Norway’s social insurance policies.   Compared with America, Norway provides exceptionally generous support to disabled workers.  But a very high percentage of Norwegians make use of these benefits.  Prof. Vaage discussed his and colleagues’ recent research on non-health related reasons for this high enrollment.  Sustaining Norway’s successful model of social policy requires knowing not just about its successes, but also how it can be improved.  

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Learning the Middle East from Japanese Scholars

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Turan Kayaoglu, Associate Professor of International Relations, PPPA

On March 18, 2016, I chaired a side-event panel in New York during CSW60—the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The panel’s title was “Women’s Social Lives and Changing Values in the Middle East: Beyond the Framework of Religion, Culture, and Tradition.” Organized by the Tokyo-based Turkey-Japan Cultural Dialog Society and the New York-based Peace Islands Institute, the panel featured three ethnically Japanese scholars affiliated with Japanese universities. These scholars had much insight to offer about the Middle East; they also had many astute observations about the process of studying the Middle East.

The dominant view in the US public sphere is that, grounded in Islam, Middle Eastern values are fairly stable and uniformly hostile on the subject of women’s lives and rights. This view both neglects how the socio-economic and politics status of Middle Eastern women has experienced dramatic changes and ignores the voice and agency of women in these changes. Focusing on women’s voices and agency, the panelists discussed examples from three issue areas and countries across the Middle East: religious reinterpretation in Egypt, reconstruction of the notion of honor (namus) in Turkey, and political participation during and after the Arab Spring in Tunisia. Continue reading