Written by Clare Isabel Ee | Image provided by the Middle East Institute
Mollie Saltskog (right) with Dr Nancy Gleason (left) at the prize ceremony.
On 7 December 2015, Yale-NUS student Mollie Saltskog (Class of 2017) was awarded the fourth annual Emirates NBD Middle East Essay Prize.
Mollie’s winning essay, titled ‘Supportive to Active: The evolving role of women in al-Qaeda’, was praised for its originality and quality of research, and won her S$1,000 cash and a one-week stay in Dubai.
“The paper was a comparative study between central al-Qaeda and two al-Qaeda affiliates – al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria – and their recruitment and employment of women,” explained Mollie.
“There is very much to be explored in this field of female recruitment, not only in al-Qaeda’s organisation but other jihadist organisations as well.”
At the prize presentation, Dr Brian Shegar, Emirates NBD’s General Manager of the Singapore office and Head of Asia Pacific, said the competition aims to encourage discussion on topics related to the Middle East among tertiary students.
It is open to students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale-NUS College, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), and Singapore Institute of Management (SIM).
“This research is not only the product of my passion for Middle Eastern security studies, but also the product of knowledge, mentorship and support from a number of individuals that I would very much like to extend my gratitude to,” said Mollie after receiving her award.
One such person who was pivotal in guiding Mollie was Yale-NUS Political Science lecturer and Associate Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Dr Nancy Gleason.
“Mollie has a great interest in the Middle East and she wanted to be able to cover the issue more,” shared Dr Gleason. “As we currently do not have modules at Yale-NUS that specifically focus on the Middle East, I suggested that she and I do an Independent Reading and Research module together.”
The Independent Reading and Research module counts for 2 Modular Credits (MC) and allows upperclass students to explore topics that they are interested in as part of their Major.
“It’s exciting because we can use the 2 MC modules for students to study any region in the world that interests them,” said Dr Gleason. “We have a lot of professors at Yale-NUS who will be able to focus on the minutia of interest areas for students in the upper years.”
In January 2016, Mollie will travel to Yale University in New Haven for a semester, under Yale-NUS’ Semester Study Abroad programme, where she plans to take up more modules related to Middle East studies.