Scholar Spotlight: Norah Elmagraby

Why did you apply to HASTAC?

I learned about HASTAC during the third year of my Ph.D. while coming across an announcement from Emory University’s Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. During that time, I was considering adding a digital component to my dissertation research, and I didn’t know where to start. What attracted me to HASTAC is the interdisciplinary community of scholars, all committed to advance the innovative ways of incorporating technology in their research, teaching, and activism.  

What do you want to do after you graduate?

I knew from the beginning of my doctoral studies that I am not interested in the tenure-track route. In the past year, I have spent numerous hours attending non-academic career events and conducting informational interviews. What I learned so far is that ideally, I would love to work at a university, either as an administrator, digital scholarship specialist, or community-engaged learning advocate. 

What’s something that people would be surprised to know about you?

Many people are surprised when I tell them that at some point in my life, I was a nurse, social entrepreneur, and a sustainability consultant before starting my Ph.D. in Islamic Civilizations Studies.

What are some things that you wish you knew before you got into graduate school?

Wow, this is a difficult one! A LOT! I am in my 5th year at the moment, and I still wish that I took advanced writing classes before my Ph.D. Also, I wish that I knew that this is not a sprint, but a marathon, and that the coping mechanisms that worked for me in my master’s program do not apply in a Ph.D. program. However, I am grateful for every ounce of strength, patience, and resilience this process has instilled in me.

How do you envision HASTAC and/or higher education in 10 years?

I believe that the nature of the historical moment has changed and pushed higher education to a new normal. The shift to online learning has opened doors and collaborations across spaces that did not seem possible before. Will it be possible to gain a degree from a different country without stepping out of your home in 2030? Maybe!

How does digital scholarship fit into your research or teaching?

My dissertation investigates how Islamic values influence environmental behavior in Muslim majority countries in the Middle East. The digital component of my dissertation will extract, map, and compare online Islamic rulings related to environmental issues published in Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Working with born digital materials, my project utilizes digital tools for data extraction and analysis. As for my teaching, I have been involved in delivering digital pedagogy courses for graduate students at Emory University.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research or teaching?

Through my research, I hope to provide nuanced insight into the role of Islamic thought in the human-environment interaction in the Middle East.

What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?

Other than the piles of books on my desk for my dissertation research, I usually enjoy reading psychology-related nonfiction books. However, during this time of social distancing, I have been experimenting with fiction. I am currently reading Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie and enjoying it. I am also listening to By The Book podcast, as well as the Office Ladies.