International Scholar and Syrian Refugee Dr. Abdul Nasser Kaadan Teaches as Visiting History Professor

In February 2017, international scholar and Syrian refugee Abdul Nasser Kaadan gave a lecture at Weber State discussing the causes, consequences and potential future of the crisis in Syria. This semester, Kaadan will complete teaching his first three courses here at WSU: one on the history of science, another about the history of the Middle East and a class about the Syria crisis.

“More students, and even some of the teaching faculty, are very interested in what is going on in Syria, to an extent beyond the number of students enrolled in the Syrian crisis course,” Kaadan said.

The interest is so widespread, Kaadan said, that the University of Utah, Utah State University and Brigham Young University have all asked him to present a lecture or a whole course about the Syria crisis.

“In addition to his outstanding record of scholarship, Kaadan lends a firsthand perspective on the origins and consequences of the ongoing crisis in Syria,” said Susan Matt, history department chair. “He offers insights and analysis to explain these important world events. He also illuminates the very real human toll it has taken on the Syrian civilian population.”

Kaadan and his wife arrived in Utah in December 2016. He will continue to teach at WSU throughout the summer and fall 2017 semesters.

Before Kaadan began teaching as a visiting history professor at WSU, he taught at the University of Aleppo in Syria and was a successful orthopedic surgeon running a prosperous clinic. He has both a medical degree and a Ph.D. in history of medicine. But by 2015, life in Syria consisted of bombings, attacks and kidnappings every day.

Kaadan and his wife fled their country to seek refuge in Turkey. Since then, the situation in Syria has exploded into the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. The long war has claimed the lives of an estimated 450,000 people, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. An additional 4.81 million people have been displaced.

“Weber State is very lucky to have Dr. Abdul Nasser Kaadan as a visiting scholar on our faculty,” Matt said. “He is an internationally known scholar and a pioneer in the field of the history of Islamic medicine. His research has been groundbreaking.”

Kaadan is president of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine and chief editor of the organization’s journal. His work has added to research about the history of medicine, especially bringing to light contributions made by Arab or Muslim physicians.

Kaadan has worked to bring attention to the contributions of Muslim and Arab physicians in the Middle Ages. Many discoveries and achievements are still attributed to Western physicians, but Kaadan is working to correct those fallacies in the history of medicine.