I know, that question made me cringe, too.
But think about it. I’m not a sociologist, obviously, but in this country, it’s hard to miss the overlap between being ultra-conservative and being an engineer.
You just need to walk into any engineering department at the University of Jordan (aside from architectural engineering) or any corporate technology department to see how irrationally conservative engineers can be, compared to people who studied humanities or medicine.
I look at my own friends, too. Not a single one of my good friends has an engineering degree, which is saying something in a country that graduates the highest percentage of engineers in the MENA.
Enter this new book, “Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection Between Violent Extremism and Education”. The researchers began with a data set of nearly 500 Islamist extremists, almost all of them men. The researchers narrowed their list to 207 people who pursued higher education and whose majors could be determined. A pattern emerged: 93 of them, nearly 45 percent, had studied engineering. This frequency far exceeded what would be predicted statistically; among male college students from the 19 countries represented in the sample, fewer than 12 percent studied engineering.
You can read this article on Chronicle for more.
Teaching our kids art history, history, philosophy, and real literature will go a long way in ensuring that we don’t continue on this path of self-destruction. We need to teach our kids to empathize, to imagine, to create. We need them to get started on this really early, too.
Yes, math and science are essential. But I would argue that Plato, Picasso, and Alexander the Great are more essential for raising a future generation of Jordanians who are doers, makers, humanitarians, and thinkers.