Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Nükhet Kardam


I am passionate about women’s human rights, how global human rights norms apply in specific cultures; about working, living and exploring multiple cultures and multiple identities; and about the nature of self and of identity.

I am also very interested in exploring avenues for effective communication in the classroom and in the field, communication based on presence, trust and resilience. I offer a course titled Communicating in a Changing World with Professor Andrea Olsen from Middlebury College. We aim to promote embodied communication for social justice, taking into account how somatic tools assist us in integrating internal experiences with the external environment, including our communities, with different cultures, and in national and international contexts. Professor Olsen and I have initiated a project titled: The Whole Body Intelligence Project, supported by the Middlebury Fund for Innovation. This project encourages self-management of stress levels and deepening awareness of mind-body connections. As part of this project, three Qi Gong films with Lee Holden have been created for classroom and personal use.

What excites me about being a professor at MIIS is working with a socially committed, multicultural group of students and teaching within an environment of innovation and openness.

Watercolor Identities: Explore the Nature of Identity


Women's Human Rights, Gender and International Development, Development Assistance, Implementation of Global Human Rights Norms in Local Contexts, Political and Cultural Context of Development Practice, Identity Politics.

Books, Articles and Public Presentations:


Articles and Presentations:

  • Kardam, Nükhet, and Lane, Brittany. "Women Communicating for Social Change is Way of Life" The Women's International Perspective. 5 May 2015.
  • INTERSECTION, Episode 46. Aslan Media. "Turkish Politics and Women's Human Rights" 2 Sept. 2014. Radio.
  • Kardam, Nükhet, and Meltrem, Agduk. "Mobilizing Religious Leaders to Combat Violence against Women in Turkey." The Women's International Perspective. 14 Aug. 2014.
  • Kardam, Nükhet (April 2013), TEDxMonterey "Watercolor Identities."
  • Kardam, Nükhet and Fredric Kropp (2013), "Global Trends: Women as Social Entrepreneurs: a Case Study." In Women in the Global Economy: Leading Social Change. Global Education Research Reports 8, edited by Trish Tierney. San Francisco, Institute of International Education
  • Ongoing Research Project in “Intercultural Modes of Thinking and Reasoning” at the Monterey Institute with Fusun Akarsu, Philip Murphy and Katherine Punteney - in countries like Macedonia, Israel, USA, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
  • Turkey’s Response to the Global Gender Regime”, GEMC (Gender Equality and Multicultural Conviviality Journal), Tohoku University, no. 4, 2011
  • Leslie Eliason Teaching Excellence Award, 2010
  • Contributing author, UNIFEM, “Aid and Security.” In Progress of the World’s Women Report, 2008-2009.

Previous Work

I have been interested in change in international organizations and researched how gender was mainstreamed in several international development organizations. I engage in consulting with development organizations, including evaluation of women’s human rights programs and projects and women’s political participation, gender and governance. More recently I have turned to exploring how global women’s rights norms are interpreted and implemented in local cultural contexts.


PhD, Political Science, Michigan State University; MA, International Relations, University of British Columbia; BA, Philosophy, Istanbul University; IB, Arts, Robert College

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

DPPG8518 - Women's Human Rights:Xcultural      

This course will focus on the global women’s human rights norms as embodied in legal instruments such as CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women) and the Beijing Platform for Action. We will explore the process of their formulation, how women’s rights were placed on the global agenda, and the level of acceptance of international policy and global norms by state parties. We will then move to women’s human rights policies and their implementation in national and local contexts. We will investigate how cultural and religious norms complement and/or contradict global norms on women’s rights. We will explore different rights, such and the right to be free from violence of all forms, and the role of men. We will also explore different areas of Development such as Refugees and Migration, Sex Trafficking, Political Participation and Democratization. Finally, we will learn and apply advocacy tools to advance women’s rights. Thus, this course will investigate the policy process from agenda setting to implementation at global and local levels.

Fall 2016 - MIIS

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DPPG8542 / ICCO9542 - SPR:Communicating Change World      

Communication skills are of particular relevance to Development Practice and Policy (DPP) students who intend to work in diverse intercultural settings to promote social change for social justice. We believe that communication is the center point of what constitutes development (defined as furthering social justice). The communications field has traditionally been understood as public relations and marketing but in this course, we focus on identity, perceptions, listening and advocacy dimensions and how our internal landscape affects how we act, speak and listen in intercultural contexts. Many projects have failed because development has simply been understood as imitation of more developed countries and transfer of information and knowledge leading to desired changes in behavior. In this sense, communication becomes purely instrumental. It has become clear that we must pay attention to the process and intent of the communication between the varied stakeholders: the donors, recipients, government representatives, community leaders, and people who live in those communities. Thus, we would like to define communication for development as the use of communication processes, techniques and media to help people toward a full awareness of their situation and their options for change, to resolve conflicts, to work towards consensus, to help people plan actions for change and sustainable development.

International aid agencies are now calling more and more for the kinds of ‘soft skills’ that help aid workers enter new communities, to come across as human beings who are self-aware and present, who listen before talking or telling, who are also aware that communication is much more than just ‘verbal’. A central premise of this course is that communication is a whole-body experience and that it involves a dynamic and fluid interchange between a person’s internal and external environments. A second premise is that when we naturally connect with ourselves, we connect better with others and truly share practical wisdom and insights. Drawing from the Intercultural Communication literature and from the literature on ‘Whole Body Intelligence, as well as case studies drawn from both development agencies’ experiences and alumni working in the field, we will investigate how we ‘arrive’ in a new community, how we use our voice, how we listen, and how we use space. We will examine how understanding our nervous system helps us deal with conflict. We will explore our own perceptions and biases as development workers, how projections may lead to ‘othering’ and to conflict. We will investigate how the languages we employ shape the way we communicate. We will focus on our own identities, as well as how others perceive us and how identity interplays with power. We will study different modes of communication: verbal and nonverbal, as well as virtual. Art and food traditions will also be explored as significant avenues of communication, enhancing intercultural values and dialogue.

Spring 2016 - MIIS, Spring 2017 - MIIS

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DPPG8637 - Social Sector Needs Assessment      

This 2-credit, 2-weekend course introduces participants to a variety of tools and methodologies for participatory needs assessment in the context of poverty. The goal of this course is to develop and apply the fundamental needs and assets assessment skills necessary for a career in international development. International aid agencies are now calling more and more for the kinds of ‘soft skills’ that help aid workers enter new communities, to come across as human beings who are self-aware and present, flexible and creative, who listen before talking or telling, and who understand that communication is much more than just ‘verbal’.

The following topics will be covered:

1) An overview of Poverty, Social Change, Participation, and Asset-Based Development (including the importance of an Asset-Based approach in sustainable development; types of assets, including social capital);

2) An overview of participatory methods, tools, techniques and strategies applied in Asset Based Development activities. We will focus on how external facilitators interact with local participants and other stakeholder groups employing appropriate soft skills, which include the more traditional needs assessment tools, such as priority ranking, mapping, seasonal calendar, as well as somatic tools for effective communication in intercultural contexts.

Spring 2016 - MIIS, Spring 2017 - MIIS

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DPPG8643 - SemPwr&Idntity/MultiCultrlWrld      

In this seminar, we first examine our own identities in a reflective and critical way. Why are some identities complementary to each other, while others are contradictory? Why are some identities repressed or redefined? In the second section of the course, we investigate the social construction of identities. How do we construct the ‘other’? Under what circumstances does the ‘other’ become the enemy? We discuss nation building in this context as one group’s power over others in defining the national identity, its myths, history, language and other defining characteristics. How does nation building empower particular ethnic, religious, racial groups in this process at the expense of others? Where is the balance between maintaining cultural diversity and group rights, at the same time creating a state which erases group privileges in order to promote individual rights and ‘citizens’ whose primary loyalty is to the ‘nation’? The third and final section of the course focuses on the problems related to the recognition of multiculturalism. We analyze policies on language, religion, culture, and ethnicity in specific countries with the aim of discovering the conditions that promote multiculturalism.

Fall 2016 - MIIS

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