Dr. Mary Norton’s first Fulbright grant was to the University of Jordan in Amman, where she helped develop the first graduate program in nursing in the region. This initial experience led to what she calls a “multiplier effect.” Dr. Norton, who is Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Global Academic Initiatives at Felician University in New Jersey, would go on to receive four additional Fulbright grants to further her work in nursing education in the Middle East.
A Fulbright Alumni Innovation grant enabled her to bring faculty from the University of Jordan to the United States, equip them with the latest techniques to advance the university’s growing nursing program, and provide training on distance learning. Another grant, through a past Fulbright program known as the Visiting Specialist Program: Direct Access to the Muslim World, gave Dr. Norton the opportunity to bring a Muslim faculty member from the University of Jordan to New York. There, the faculty member met with healthcare providers and student nurses in hospitals and within the classroom to educate them on how to effectively care for Muslim patients, particularly during periods of religious fasting.
Dr. Norton’s Fulbright experiences and the relationships she has built with the University of Jordan have had a lasting impact on her work, as well as on her home institution, Felician University. Under Dr. Norton’s guidance, Felician became one of about thirty U.S. universities to be granted non-governmental organization (NGO) status from the United Nations, and university curriculum changes have led to an increase in global health courses and internationally-focused programs. “I wanted our students, particularly those students who couldn’t study abroad, to have international exposure. My Fulbright experiences have been just marvelous. They opened my eyes to see what was going on in the rest of the world — not by learning it from a textbook, but from going out and learning directly from the people,” remarked Dr. Norton.
Dr. Norton herself has been intimately involved with the UN for many years, including as a member of the Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organization Executive Committee and as Chair of the 63rd Annual DPI/NGO Conference in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to bolstering her own scholarly work, her United Nations affiliation has opened doors for students at Felician University to experience the United Nations firsthand. Through attending and observing sessions of the UN, Dr. Norton’s students have the opportunity to learn about the international decision-making process and critical global issues.
On August 1, 2017, Dr. Norton will serve as Co-Chair of the Intergenerational Dialogues on the Sustainable Development Goals, a full-day conference which will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. In 2015, the UN Member States adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure human rights and prosperous and fulfilling lives for all by 2030.” The upcoming Intergenerational Dialogues event aims to raise awareness of the role that youth and older persons can play in implementing the SDGs and empower them to act as agents of social change.
Looking ahead to the conference, Dr. Norton has clear goals. “What we really want to do is to stimulate dialogue. In looking at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, you can see where they apply to the very young, to older people, and also to the group in between — it’s really a lifespan of issues that we’re talking about. Poverty links to every one of the Sustainable Development Goals, and it affects people on the margins and in under-served populations. More than just talking about these issues, we want to come up with an action plan,” she explained.
In particular, Dr. Norton feels that those in the nursing profession confront the core issues at stake in the SDGs on a daily basis. “All the social determinants [of health] are in the sustainable development goals,” she noted. “In nursing, it’s not just about a patient in the hospital today, but how you can prevent that person from becoming a patient — all the preventative aspects of healthcare.”
Additional information about the upcoming Intergenerational Dialogues on the SDGs event and the link to register can be found here.
Dr. Mary Norton received her B.A. from New Jersey City University and her M.A., Ed.M., and Ed.D. from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She also completed a post-doctoral certificate in the medical humanities from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. In addition to her Fulbright awards and USAID grants, Dr. Norton has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nurses and the CARE Award for Excellence in Education from the New Jersey State Nurses Association.