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Dr Sarah Benson

Programme Director, Inclusion and Special Educational Needs (ISEN) - University of Birmingham, Dubai

Dr. Sarah Benson earned her Bachelors’ in English and Special Education from James Madison University in 2002, going on to teach students with significant emotional and behaviour disorders before leaving for the Middle East the first time. As an American Peace Corps from 2004-06 she studied Arabic language and culture, while providing training to Jordanian special education teachers. Upon her return to the United States, Sarah completed a Masters’ degree in International Education at The George Washington University, at the same time she was employed as a teacher, coach and mentor in one of the largest school districts in the United States.

In 2013 Sarah was chosen as a Fulbright Scholar, and travelled to Norway where she spent a year working with Norwegian teachers and students to develop inclusive practices. She was inspired during this year to begin working towards her doctoral degree. At the University of Virginia she was a part of a team that procured a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation for research and development of inclusive science curriculum, served as the President of the Curry School of Education and Human Development, and partnered on research projects into the refugee experience. She completed her dissertation entitled, A Comparative Case Study of Jordanian Inclusive Policies and Practices and joined the covid-19 class of 2020 graduates. Separate manuscripts have been published in a special issue of Futuristic Implementation of Research in Education and a forthcoming book, Global Directions in Inclusive Education.

Sarah’s ongoing research interests lie in the policy and practice of inclusion and special education needs within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She continues to engage in scholarship activities to promote strong policy and inclusive practices in the MENA region, including current research projects on inclusive education in light of the global pandemic and inclusive awareness raising in Jordan.