The University of Iowa

In the news: Guest Opinion | Reflections on the course Women Unknown: Fight for Independence

April 9th, 2021

Guest Opinion, The Daily Iowan

Although the University of Iowa offers thousands of classes for students to take, a new course offered beginning in the spring semester of 2020 brings an entirely new and different approach towards the idea of women’s rights. This class is titled Women Unknown: Fight for Independence, and it is taught by one of the university’s amazing professors, Irina Kostina. Kostina, who was born and raised in Dagestan until the age of 12, received a Global Curriculum Development Award for the proposal of this course.

She has years of lecturing experience at the UI as well as other universities around the world; her primary area of study consists of the Russian language, religion, and culture. She is the director of undergraduate studies at the university and associate professor of instruction. Kostina teaches several courses at the university, so it is not impossible to have her as a professor during your time at the university. I was fortunate this semester to be in this course, which consisted of 32 students.

In this course, we learned about the past and current issues of women’s rights in the Caucasus, which is a mountainous region located where Europe, the Middle East, and Asia meet. We studied how women’s rights in the North Caucasus region — violated in the past — have changed over time. We looked specifically at the women in Dagestan. Dagestan is a republic of Russia, the capital and largest city is Makhachkala, located on the coast of the Caspian Sea. It is home to several ethnicities, languages, and cultures. However, the women there are faced with violations that women in America do not really have to think twice about.