Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs today announced the launch of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship, an effort to help reinvigorate a continental bond that has anchored global order, provided peace and stability, and fueled economic expansion for seven decades.
Featured Publications and Research
Dedicated to advancing public policy in the Middle East
Established in 1998, MEI has expanded its programs to address diverse topics including alternative energy, humanitarian crisis response, economic opportunity, demographic challenges, and beyond. Through the integration of research and policy analysis, education, and community engagement, MEI aims to advance public policy and build capacity in the Middle East.
The Middle East today is experiencing a profound transition, confronting political, demographic, and economic challenges and opportunities that will have a tremendous impact on the future of the region and the world.
The Middle East Initiative (MEI), chaired by Professor Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), is dedicated to advancing public policy in the Middle East by convening the world’s foremost academic and policy experts, developing the next generation of leaders, and promoting community engagement on campus and in the region.
Advancing Research and Policy Analysis
MEI is committed to building a community of scholars at Harvard that works to advance policy-relevant knowledge on the Middle East and to serving as a pivotal resource for translating research into practice by:
- funding Harvard-wide faculty research grants and encouraging interdisciplinary research.
- awarding pre- and postdoctoral fellowships for research related to Middle Eastern governance, economics, and public policy.
- supporting student research projects in the region.
- hosting senior fellows and visiting scholars who enhance Harvard’s expertise on the region.
"My year at MEI was the most productive of my graduate career. The cohort of MEI Research Fellows and connection to other experts across Harvard University has been incredible for collaboration, community, and ultimately my work."
Amanda Rizkallah, MEI Research Fellow 2015–2016
Research topic: How Civil War Networks Shape Lebanon’s Post-War Political System
Educating Future Leaders
“The unique insights we gained in Jordan from exposure to local complexities and discussions with practitioners would have been impossible to develop in Cambridge, far away from realities on the ground.”
Ruben Brekelmans, MPP 2015
Participant, 2015 Field Study Course: Assessing Rehabilitation Needs of the Syrian Refugee Population in Jordan
Through a wide array of opportunities and programming, MEI prepares students and experienced professionals to bring positive and lasting change to the region by:
- developing experiential learning opportunities in the region through policy field visits and intensive, short-term courses.
- awarding travel grants for students to complete internships or research projects.
- supporting the student-run Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy.
- providing customized Executive Education programs for experienced practitioners to address concerns such as good governance, NGO management, and education reform.
- recruiting students from the region and awarding scholarships.
- offering fellowships for advanced training through ongoing Executive Education programs.
- generating synergies with a flourishing alumni base in the region.
- supporting the career development of students and alumni by arranging mentorship, internship, and networking opportunities.
Promoting Community Engagement
"MEI's study groups fill an important gap at HKS, supplementing our coursework with a broad base of highly informative and insightful speakers. By the end of the semester, I had a new base of knowledge that I simply didn't have before about the region."
Khaled Kteily, MPP 2016 and Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellow
With a broad network across the Middle East and around the world, MEI creates connections and
fosters collaboration. Through a robust series of events that brings more than 80 experts each year to Cambridge, MEI builds a community on campus and promotes the exchange of ideas and knowledge on the Middle East. The majority of this programming is free and open to the public:
- Speaker series, book talks, and research seminars shed a nuanced light on the region’s diverse challenges and opportunities.
- Study groups, workshops, and conferences investigate important questions facing the region in greater depth; recent topics include the Arab social contract, globalization in the region, and U.S. foreign policy in Israel and Palestine.
- The MEI film series spotlights a variety of policy-relevant issues through feature films from the region.
MEI at a Glance
By the Numbers
Research Program Coordinator
For inquires about pre-doctoral and postdoctoral research fellowships, visiting scholars or faculty research grants.
For inquiries about events, study groups, student activities, conferences and workshops.
124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 100
Cambridge, MA 02138
79 JFK Street, Box 126
Cambridge, MA 02138
MEI at a Glance
The Middle East Initiative has a variety of offerings for students at Harvard Kennedy School. We encourage you to explore some of these opportunities on this page or contact us at MEI to discuss your interests in depth.
January Term Field Study Courses
MEI supports an experiential field study course each year in the region taught by Prof. Claude Bruderlein. The January 2018, titled "Humanitarian Negotiation on the Frontlines: A Critical Review of the Regional and International Response", took place in Jordan and reviewed issues surrounding the public policy challenges associated with the movement of the Syrian population in the region and the humanitarian assistance and protection challenges associated with the international response. Students who joined the course have been invited to continue research with Prof. Bruderlein and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative with a possible conference taking place in April or May 2018 in Cambridge.
Field Experience Trips
MEI supports an annual policy field visit to the UAE each January in collaboration with the Center for Public Leadership. This year's visit, from January 13 - January 21, focused on government innovation and public policy and included academic and policy discussions, cultural visits, and engagement with HKS alumni. Students, some of whom had never been to the region before, met with ministers, local officials, and entrepreneurs to gain a nuanced understanding of the innovate approaches the UAE undertakes to solve pressing policy challenges.
MEI supports the student-run Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy (JMEPP), a policy review published annually at Harvard Kennedy School that presents cutting-edge analysis on the contemporary Middle East and North Africa region. JMEPP is committed to presenting new perspectives on pressing problems, addressing complex issues with insightful analysis, and exploring emerging trends shaping the region.
Interested in being involved with a prestigious academic journal focused on the Middle East and North Africa? Consider applying to the editorial team of JMEPP.
JMEPP is always looking for talented writers and editors. If you are passionate about the Middle East and are interested in editing, writing, conducting interviews with prominent figures, fundraising, publicity, communications, or other aspects of running a journal, you should apply!
Please note that JMEPP is also happy to accept written submissions from non-board members. If you have written an original & high quality piece of analysis about a relevant topic in the Middle East or North Africa, please feel free to submit it for editorial review to email@example.com. See JMEPP's website for examples of the kinds of pieces JMEPP is looking for.
Harvard Coalition for Syrian Refugees
The Harvard Coalition for Syrian Refugees is a student-driven initiative that started in the fall of 2015 to leverage the resources across Harvard University to collaboratively respond to the Syrian refugee crisis through local, national and international efforts.
The Middle East Initiative organizes dozens of events each semester through its speaker series, book talk series, film series, forums, study groups and conferences. Sign up to receive emails about upcoming events here.
Internships and Career Opportunities
The Middle East Initiative helps connect interested HKS students with jobs, internships, fellowships, research opportunities and other programs in the Middle East. We encourage you to contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your career interests.
Research and Travel Funding
MEI offers funding to HKS students to conduct research for their PAEs and SYPAs, participate in field study courses/programs, or for internships in the Middle East and North Africa. The next window for student funding will open in the fall for winter 2018/2019. Please check back for more information later in the fall.
Upon return from field study courses, research travel, and internships, students complete a short summary of their work. Below see a sampling of post-award reports.
Are you thinking about applying to HKS? Learn more about the various degrees offered through HKS and how to apply from the Office of Admissions here. There are ample fellowship opportunities for prospective students from the Middle East. We encourage you to explore the various fellowships listed below, and contact us or visit the HKS Financial Aid Office here to find out more.
As an additional resource, we also encourage you to watch this video to hear about the HKS student experience from recent alumni from the region:
Representatives from the Office of Admisssions travel to the Middle East frequently to host information sessions on degree programs and fellowships. Follow the HKS Admissions Blog to find out about opportunities near you.
Degree Fellowships for HKS Students from the Middle East
Aida Kayali International Public Service Fellowship - Established to support students (women preferred) committed to public service in the Middle East, Africa or South America
Bashir Al-Haffar Public Service Fellowship - Established to support students (women preferred) from the Arab League.
Emirates Leadership Initiative Fellowship - Established by the government of the United Arab Emirates to support students from the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries who have demonstrated interest in developing their leadership and public management skills in the United Arab Emirates and Arab countries.
Lamont Graduate Fellowship - Established to support students from the Middle East, India and South Asia.
Latifa Kosta Graduate Fellowship - Established to support students from the Middle East with a preference for students from Lebanon.
Mary and David Boies Fellowship - Established to support students from Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Palestinian Territories, and former Soviet Union countries in Central Asia who demonstrate a capacity to lead, with a vision for their countries or region, and potential to make a significant, positive difference when they return to their home country.
Middle East-North Africa Graduate Fellowship Fund -Established by Norwegian oil and gas company DNO International ASA to support qualified applicants who enroll at HKS through the Edward S. Mason Program.
Princess Banderi Al-Faisal Public Service Fellowship - Established to support students from the Arab League (women preferred). As a demonstration of his/her commitment to public service, the successful applicant must be professionally employed in the public sector in their home country, broadly defined, for three years upon graduation. If the three-year commitment is not met, recipients must repay the fellowship.
The Sammy Ofer Fellowship for Emerging Leaders - Established to support promising students from Israel and Palestine. The fellowship was established in memory of Israeli businessman Sammy Ofer, who in his lifetime was a firm believer in the role that education can play in sound leadership, promoting peace and coexistence in the region.
Sheikh Abdulaziz A. Al-Tuwaijiri Public Service -Established to honor Sheikh Abulaziz Al-Tuwaijri and to advance his commitment to world peace. Preference given to Middle Eastern students committed to the cause of world peace and conflict resolution.
Sheikh Suhaim bin Hamad Al Thani Fellowship - Established to commemorate H.E. Sheikh Suhaim bin Hamad Al Thani, one of the founders and visionaries who shaped modern day Qatar. It supports students of the Edward S. Mason Program from Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Palestinian Territories, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, and Vietnam.
Rawabi Fellowship for Leaders from Palestine - Established to support promising students from Palestine, with a preference for those students with demonstrated financial need. Ideally, fellowship recipients will use their knowledge, networks and expertise to improve opportunities for the people of Palestine.
Tamer Fellowship - Established to support students from Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia and Tanzania.
Turkish Secretariat General for European Union Affairs Graduate Fellowship - Established in honor of the Secretariat General's dedication to further the education of Turkish government officials. It supports Mason program students with at least five years of service at the Turkish Secretariat General.
Wexner Israel Fellowship - Established to support outstanding Israeli government and public service professionals as they pursue a mid-career Master's Degree in Public Administration at HKS.
The following fellowship is managed through the Harvard Arab Alumni Association. More information is available here.
Harvard Arab Alumni Scholarship - An alumni-led scholarship fund at Harvard to support the Harvard Arab Alumni Association's objective of increasing the number of Arab students at Harvard.
The Middle East Initiative offers funding each year to Harvard faculty for research proposals on major policy issues affecting the region. Funding for the program is made possible by the Emirates Leadership Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School. Harvard faculty are encouraged to collaborate with academics and educational institutions in the region.
Applications are for one-year grants (up to $80,000) and multi-year grants (up to $120,000 per year) to support research by Harvard University faculty members on issues of critical importance to the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab World. Grants can be applied toward research assistance, travel, summer salary, workshops, and course buy-out.
Please submit inquiries and your research proposal (no more than 5 pages), budget, other sources of funding, and the curriculum vitae for senior researchers by October 23, 2017 to the Research and Financial Coordinator of the Middle East Initiative by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Emirates Leadership Initiative
The Emirates Leadership Initiative will consider research proposals on a wide range of countries in the region, but focused on the following topics:
- Establishing durable, accountable democracies not only by focusing on political institutions, but also by empowering the region’s citizens.
REVITALIZING THE STATE
- Reforming the Middle East’s social service delivery systems with a special emphasis on health, education and social protection.
DEMOCRATIZING FINANCIAL AND LABOR MARKETS
- Working to ensure that the Middle East’s financial and labor markets benefit the entire population, not merely the elite.
SCIENCE AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES
- Aligning science and technology missions to promote regional development goals.
Find more information on previous grants awarded through the Emirates Leadership Initiative here.
Find more information on previous grants awarded through the Kuwait Program here.
MEI Study Groups
Spring 2016 | How Should the Next President of the United States Handle the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
MEI Senior Fellow Study Group | Spring 2016
How Should the Next President of the United States Handle the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
with Dr. Robert M. Danin
In November 2015, President Obama acknowledged publicly that there will not be a negotiated peace between Israel and Palestine during the lifespan of his administration. The Israeli-Palestinian situation is stalemated. There are no diplomatic contacts between the two parties, and virtually all international attention towards the Middle East is focused on hot wars and conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. When President Obama’s successor takes office in January 2017, he or she will confront a myriad of foreign policy challenges in the Middle East, including an Israeli-Palestinian conflict that continues to seethe and simmer on the ground. What should he or she do, if anything?
Over the course of three sessions, the study group examined the realities and challenges that the next American president will face when trying to craft a coherent Israel-Palestine policy. The purpose of the course is to look at a major American foreign policy challenge the way that senior U.S. government officials, from the President down, are forced to confront them. The seminar examined the geo-strategic, diplomatic, and political contexts and the policy options that the next U.S. administration will face.
Calendar and Resources
Session 1: How did we get here?
Tuesday, February 9, 4:00-6:00pm
Kalb Seminar Room, Taubman Building, Room 275, HKS
Session 2: Today's picture.
Tuesday, March 1, 4:00-6:00pm
Allison Dining Room, Taubman Building, Fifth Floor, HKS
Session 3: What can be done, what should be done?
Tuesday, March 29, 4:00-6:00pm
Allison Dining Room, Taubman Building, Fifth Floor, HKS
Readings:Click to Download Reading List
Robert M. Danin is a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center's Middle East Initiative. He is also a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to joining CFR, he headed the Jerusalem mission of the Quartet representative, Tony Blair, from April 2008 until August 2010. A former career State Department official with over twenty years of Middle East experience, Dr. Danin previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs with responsibilities for Israeli-Palestinian issues and Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. He also served at the National Security Council for over three years, first as Director for Israeli-Palestinian affairs and the Levant and then as acting Senior Director for Near East and North African affairs. A recipient of the State Department's Superior Honor Award, Dr. Danin served as a Middle East and Gulf specialist on the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, and as a State Department senior Middle East political and military analyst. Prior to joining the State Department, he worked as a Jerusalem-based journalist covering Israeli and Palestinian politics. He has served as a thought leader for the World Economic Forum since 2012.
Dr. Danin has published widely, including in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Financial Times, CNN, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic; and he has been a frequent guest on a wide range of U.S. and international television and broadcast media.. He is a contributing author of Pathways to Peace: America and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan 2012), and Iran: The Nuclear Challenge (CFR, 2012).
Dr. Danin holds a BA in history from the University of California, Berkeley, an MSFS degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, and a doctorate in the international relations of the Middle East from St. Antony's College, Oxford University.
Fall 2015 | Rewriting the Arab Social Contract: Toward Inclusive Development and Politics in the Arab World
MEI Visiting Scholar Study Group | Fall 2015
Rewriting the Arab Social Contract: Toward Inclusive Development and Politics in the Arab World
with Minister Hedi Larbi
The Middle East Initiative hosted a series at Harvard Kennedy School, led by Minister Hedi Larbi. Mr. Larbi is the Fall 2015 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Middle East Initiative and former Minister of Economic Infrastructure and Sustainable Development and Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, Tunisia. The series ran for seven sessions during the Fall 2015 semester at Harvard Kennedy School. Please see the calendar below, and click on each of the titles for more information about individual sessions.
READ: The full report on the study group from Minister Larbi, including his notes from each presentation, conclusions from the semester, and avenues for further research, is available to read and download here.
About the Series
As the Arab uprisings have unfolded over the past four years, the economic and social issues at their roots have received little attention and in some cases have been entirely overlooked by the transitioning countries themselves and the international community. Compounded by four years of turbulent, often failed transitions, polarized politics, and deteriorating state institutions and capacity, these fundamental challenges have only grown more daunting while economic conditions have further declined. This study group will attempt to address these issues, demonstrating the need for a new social contract able to confront political and economic challenges together, to promote shared prosperity, to hold governments accountable, to uphold freedom and human rights standards, and to empower people to participate in public affairs. To the extent possible, the study group will move beyond identifying the need, and explore possible processes for developing such a new social contract, drawing on the insights of distinguished experts with direct operational and research experience in Arab countries and relevant global contexts.
All sessions meet Tuesdays, 4:15-5:45pm in Weil Town Hall, Belfer Building, Ground Floor, HKS, unless otherwise noted.
RSVP is required for each session. To RSVP for a session, click on the session title below. Please note that an RSVP does not guarantee a seat at the session.
The Arab Spring's Uneven Harvest: Successes, Setbacks, and Failed States
Tuesday, September 15, 4:15-6:00pm
Hedi Larbi, former Minister of Economic Infrastructure and Sustainable Development, Tunisia and Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
Paul Salem, Vice President for Policy and Research, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C.
Lessons from the Tunisian Transition: Challenges and Imperatives
Tuesday, September 29, 4:15-5:45pm
Ghazi Gherairi, Secretary General of the International Academy of Constitutional Law
Limitations and Political Economy of Past Development Policies in the Arab World: The Challenge of Achieving Stability and Inclusive Growth in a Complex Environment
Tuesday, October 6, 4:15-5:45pm
Björn Rother, Advisor and Chief of Strategy and Partnership Unit, Middle East and Central Asia Department, International Monetary Fund
The Economic and Social Impact of Arab Political Transitions
Tuesday, October 20, 4:15-5:45pm
Mustapha Kamel Nabli, former Chief Economist and Director, World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region; former Governor, Central Bank of Tunisia
Making the Case for a New Social Contract in the Middle East and North Africa
Tuesday, October 27, 4:15-5:45pm
Shantayanan Devarajan, Chief Economist, Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank
Writing a New Arab Social Contract: the Need for Work and Dignity
Tuesday, November 3, 4:15-5:45pm
Zafiris Tzannatos, former Senior Advisor on Social Policy for the World Bank, International Labor Organization, and Government of the United Arab Emirates
Roadmap to a New Arab Future: Negotiating and Managing a New Social Contract and Development Model
Tuesday, November 10, 4:15-6:00pm
Panel Discussion, featuring:
Hedi Larbi, Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
Hafez Ghanem, Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa
Melani Cammett, Professor of Government, Harvard University and MEI Faculty Affiliate
**Dates, locations, titles, and speakers subject to change.
Spring 2015 | Rethinking the Arab State: The Collapse of Legitimacy in Arab Politics
MEI Visiting Scholar Study Group | Spring 2015
Rethinking the Arab State: The Collapse of Legitimacy in Arab Politics
with Professor Michael C. Hudson
This series was led by professor Michael C. Hudson, Spring 2015 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Middle East Initiative and Seif Ghobash Professor of Arab Studies and International Affairs, Emeritus at Georgetown University. Please see the calendar below, and click on each of the titles for more information about the talks.
LISTEN: Podcasts of all sessions - except Lisa Wedeen's - are available online. Check out the entire playlist by clicking here. In addition, listen to short interviews with study group speakers: Samer Shehata, Madawi Al-Rasheed, and Bassam Haddad.
READ: The full report on the study group from Professor Hudson, including his notes from each presentation, conclusions from the semester, and avenues for further research, is available to read and download here.
About the Series
The Arab uprisings that began in 2011 and the ensuing turbulence have forced scholars to re-examine previously accepted propositions about legitimacy, the state, civil society, religion, and regional stability. New information technologies and social media have galvanized civil society and provide platforms for public expression. Radical Islamist ideology is challenging nationalism as a basic legitimizing principle. Transnational Islamist networks and ISIS have shaken states and the regional state system. And foreign interventions have contributed to the destablization of a region already wracked by internal conflicts. No longer, it seems, is the United States able to guarantee regional stability.
The following book served as an overview for the series:
Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democracy in the Arab World. Brynen, Rex, Moore, Pete W., Salloukh, Bassel F., Zahar, Marie-Joelle, Lynne Reinner Publishing, November 2012.
The Arab States in Crisis: The Collapse of Old Legitimacy Formulas and the Search for New Ones
Tuesday, February 17, 4:00-5:30pm
Michael C. Hudson, Seif Ghobash Professor of International Relations and Arab Studies, Emeritus, Georgetown University and Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
Islamist Politics in the Age of ISIS
Wednesday, February 25, 4:00-5:30pm
Jillian Schwedler, Professor of Political Science, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
The Resurgence of Egypt's 'Deep State'?
Tuesday, March 3, 4:00-5:30pm
Samer Shehata, Associate Professor of Middle East Studies, University of Oklahoma
Not So Good to be King: the Saudi Monarchy at Crossroads
Tuesday, March 10, 4:00-5:30pm
Madawi Al-Rasheed, Visiting Professor, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics
ISIS: a ‘State in Waiting’
Tuesday, March 31, 4:00-5:30pm
Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate and Professor, Carnegie Middle East Center, Beirut
The Syrian State: A Stateless Regime or State with Many Regimes?
Thursday, April 2, 4:00-5:30pm
Bassam Haddad, Associate Professor, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs, and Director, Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, George Mason University
*Co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies
United States Military Deployments and the Status of Women in the Arab World
Tuesday, April 7, 4:00-5:30pm
Amaney Jamal, Edward S. Sanford Professor of Politics, Princeton University
Abandoning 'Legitimacy': Reflections on Syria and Yemen
Tuesday, April 14, 4:00-5:30pm
Lisa Wedeen, Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
Can the United States 'Manage' the Middle East? Should It Try?
Wednesday, April 29, 4:00-5:30pm
Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School
2014-2015 | The Syrian Refugee Crisis
The Syrian Refugee Crisis
This study group aimed to generate engagement around the Syrian refugee crisis, contribute to the identification of long-term strategies to address the rehabilitation challenges facing refugees and refugee host nations, and create opportunities for Harvard students and fellows to contribute to an evidence-based dialogue about strategic approaches to respond to this crisis. The one-year initiative used an evidence-based approach to understand refugee needs and to support a dialogue on refugee rehabilitation among professionals and policymakers with impact on the refugee situation in the Middle East. This required gathering information about rehabilitation needs; discussion of regional engagement on policy options; and networking between key stakeholders at the technical, professional, and political levels. Through experiential learning, students and fellows from Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies developed research and policy expertise, and contributed directly to this transformational policy process. Among their achievements: Presented on partnerships at UNHCR's Sharjah Conference on MENA refugees (October 2014) Prepared the ICRC for the Berlin Ministerial Meeting on the Syrian Refugee Rehabilitation Needs (October 2014) Co-hosted and presented at the IPI Roundtable on Innovative Approaches to the Needs of those Affected by the Syrian Refugee Crisis (December 2014) Presented at a roundtable event in Jordan on Business-Humanitarian co-operation in the Syrian Refugee Crisis (January 2015) Completed field assessment missions in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon (January 2015); Published an article on social tensions in the Syrian Refugee Crisis through Spanish think tank, IEMed (June 2015) Presented the IEMed article at the Migration Policy Center's Annual Conference on seeking sustainable solutions to vulnerability and instability in the Syrian Refugee Crisis to migration policy experts (July 2015)
Fall 2013 | The Politics and Economics of Transitions in the Middle East
The Politics and Economics of Transitions in the Middle East
This series was led by Professor Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Fall 2013 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar at the Middle East Initiative and Professor of Economics at Virginia Tech. It focused on the serious economic challenges facing countries in the Middle East, both old ones inherited from the past and new ones created by uprisings and revolutions. The seminars aimed to illuminate the politics and economics of the choices countries in the region were grappling with: how to stabilize their economies at a time when revolutions have raised expectations for redistribution and jobs, while also dealing with the almost contradictory demands for radical change to economic structures that had given rise to inequality, unemployment and poverty, the very circumstances that had brought the revolutions in the first place.
Please see the calendar below and click on each of the titles for more information about the talks.
About the Series:
Countries in the Middle East that have experienced uprisings and revolutions confront serious economic challenges, old ones inherited from the past and new ones created by the uprising itself. They face the need to stabilize their economies at a time when revolutions have raised expectations for redistribution and jobs. At the same time they have to deal with the almost contradictory demands for radical change to economic structures that had given rise to inequality, unemployment and poverty, the very circumstances that had brought the revolutions in the first place. The seminars aimed to illuminate the politics and economics of these choices, as well as the experience of actual transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.
The following paper served as an overview for the series:
After the Spring: Economic Transitions in the Arab World
Magdi, A., R. Assaad, et al. Oxford University Press, 2012.
The Politics and Economics of Transitions in the Middle East: An Introduction
Wednesday, September 11, 4:00-5:30pm
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Professor of Economics, Virginia Tech, and Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School
Making Sense of Arab Labor Markets: The Enduring Legacy of Dualism
Wednesday, September 18, 4:00-5:30pm
Ragui Assaad, Professor of Planning and Public Affairs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Obstacles to Egypt's Economic Development
Wednesday, October 9, 4:00-5:30pm
Robert Springborg, Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School
Business Elites and Institutional Change in Turkey
Wednesday, October 16, 4:00-5:30pm
Sevket Pamuk, Professor of Economics and Economic History, Bosphorus University, Turkey
Documenting Crony Capitalism in Egypt
Wednesday, October 23, 4:00-5:30pm
Ishac Diwan, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
Community and Economic Development in Egypt
Wednesday, October 30, 4:00-5:30pm
Heba Handoussa, Founder, Egypt Network for Integrated Development (ENID)
Iran’s Political Economy in Flux: The Shifting Terrain in the Islamic Republic
Wednesday, November 13, 4:30-6:00pm
Kevan Harris, Sociologist and Postdoctoral Research Associate, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
The Dynamics of Regime Transitions: Insights from Theory and Historical Experiences for the Arab Transitioning Countries
Wednesday, November 20, 4:00-5:30pm
Melani Cammett, Associate Professor of Political Science, Brown University
A collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership and the Belfer Center’s Middle East Initiative, the Emirates Leadership Initiative (ELI) provides the critical opportunities needed for emerging leaders from the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East to confront the region’s public policy issues in question through a multi-pronged approach.
The complexities of modern leadership require more than traditional academic coursework. Effective leaders utilize tools of strategic and financial analysis balanced with self-understanding and the ability to work across cultures and sectors. Now, more than ever, leaders need to be equipped with the tools to think globally and act locally.
Funded by the government of the United Arab Emirates, the Emirates Leadership Initiative features several components, including: a research fund supporting pre-doctoral, post-doctoral, and faculty research; student degree fellowships; an on-site learning experience in the UAE; and Executive Education programs. Please click the links below to learn more about ELI's various elements.
III. Executive Education
Research and Travel Funding
MEI offers funding to HKS students to conduct research for their PAEs and SYPAs, participate in field study courses/programs, or for internships in the Middle East and North Africa. The application period for 2017 winter internship funding is now open. You can apply using the common application through HKS.
Upon return from field study courses and internships, students complete a short summary of their work. Below see a sampling of post-award reports.
2016 Summer Internship Funding
Bank of Algeria
James Fallon, Master in Public Administration in International Development Candidate, received summer internship funding to travel to Algeria in 2016. He will graduate in the spring of 2017.
With the help of a grant from the Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, I spent ten weeks with the Bank of Algeria during the summer of 2016. The internship was undertaken in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID).
As Algeria’s central bank, the bank manages the country’s monetary policy and provides foreign exchange services for all of the country’s international trade. It prints and manages the circulation of the Algerian dinar, and also plays a role in bank regulation and supervision.
Over the course of my time with the bank, I was able to focus on the particular challenges that major commodity exporters face in managing monetary policy. Given Algeria’s status as a major oil and gas exporter and a state-centered economy, these challenges have become especially salient for the country since the 2014 fall in oil prices.
My time with the bank was a fantastic learning experience, and fit well with my coursework on development economics at the Kennedy School. I rotated through all major departments of the bank, including the research department, foreign exchange trading, capital controls and bank inspection. I was able to engage with the practical challenges of central banking for an economy that exports almost exclusively oil and gas, while also participating in the broader discussion of how to encourage diversification in economies that rely heavily on commodity export earnings.
Importantly, the experience also gave me a chance to build relationships with Algerian policymakers and bank employees, while also exposing me to a broader community of interest for economic policy in Africa and the Middle East that spent time visiting the bank or attending conferences hosted there. The experience lent a strong grounding to my academic work in economic policy, and helped me envision various ways to apply that interest to my career.
Za'atari Refugee Camp
Anina Hewey, Farida El-Gueretly, and Sonya Temko received summer internship funding to travel to Jordan in 2016. They graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with Masters in International Education Policy the same year. In Jordan they evaluated the TIGER Program at Za'atari Refugee Camp.
Thanks to generous support from the Middle East Initiative, we, Anina Hewey, Farida El-Gueretly and Sonya Temko, (HGSE International Education Policy 2016) traveled to Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan in June to conduct a process evaluation of the pilot TIGER program. TIGER (These Inspiring Girls Enjoy Reading) is a community-based, non-formal education initiative for adolescent Syrian girls in Za’atari funded through the UNHCR Innovation fund, implemented by IRD and designed and supported by Open Learning Exchange. The program aims to keep girls in school once they reach the at-risk age of adolescence and re-enroll out-of-school girls into formal schooling. The program also seeks to enhance girls’ sense of agency, meaning and connection in their lives. To achieve these goals, the program is comprised of three essential parts: academic support, project-based learning, and a personalized learning system on tablets. Across six districts of Za’atari, 120 TIGER girls meet daily in teams of about ten guided by a co-teaching pair of Syrian women.
The purpose of our trip was to evaluate these goals and determine what more, if anything, could be done to strengthen the program. Through our interviews with coaches, focus group discussions with TIGER girls, and observations of each of the TIGER teams, we found the program to be successful in increasing girls’ motivation to go to and stay in school. The combination of direct academic support, community service projects, and strong trusting relationships with coaches, made the TIGER girls and their families part of a “network of girl change makers” within the camp. Many girls reported feeling increased confidence at school and developed new skills in collaborative problem solving.
The projects the girls have done as part of the TIGER program demonstrate their creativity and power. The first round of projects centered on the theme of recycling. Teams did projects varying from creating decorations out of recycled materials, creating and performing a play about recycling, to conducting interviews in the camp about how the community recycles. The current project cycle is focused on the theme of education and teams are doing projects including peer-learning with non-TIGER girls, publishing an article about social issues in the community magazine, creating their own magazine on the importance of education, organizing a “girl pool” to have all girls walk safely together to and from school, organizing a registration drive to re-enroll girls into school, and organizing a girls’ soccer tournament.
Our biggest recommendation for the program is to expand it to reach as many girls as possible in the camp. This should be done through systematic training that leverages the knowledge and experience of the current coaches to train oncoming coaches in project-based learning. Because of the impact that the peer-learning project has had on TIGER and non-TIGER girls, this model should be expanded to all TIGER teams and could be considered as a route for expansion of the program at-large.
ANU - Connect to Change
Heli Mishael, Maser of Public Policy Candidate and current teaching fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, received summer internship funding to travel to Israel in 2016. She will graduate in the spring of 2017.
In the summer of 2016, I spent two months interning at ANU, a nonprofit organization organizing for socioeconomic issues in Israel. Through ANU, I was able to put my skills learnt in the Kennedy School into action in the social justice organizing campaigns and learn from dozens of organizations collaborating under the umbrella of ANU.
My responsibility was to organize and train activists in public narrative, a skill that I learnt in Prof. Ganz’s Public Narrative class. I coached over 80 individuals in their stories of self and worked with eight different campaigns for their narratives. I also got to help ANU’s organizing coalitions with their campaign strategy. I identified best cases, benchmarks and data that were useful for campaigns to utilize and was able to help them with “infographics” that could communicate the coalitions’ issues to the public especially through social media.
One of my favorite experiences in my summer internship was the advocacy work done in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. With the activists of ANU’s coalitions, we presented issues and the work of the coalition in to Members of the Knesset (MKs) and in the relevant Committees. We also staged actions in the Knesset hallways, calling for MKs to support our campaigns. I got to see many different campaigns in different stages: from planning many of them to celebrating the win of the public summer camp affordability campaign. I was able to get a lot of insight into the dynamics of the civil society, the media’s and the MKs’ collaboration.
My summer experience was the first time I transitioned from nonprofit programming into advocacy and direct organizing work. I learnt that this is a path that I would like to continue on, because I saw how social justice change happened before my very eyes, and that it can be and is initiated by the civil society working directly to pressure the government to change its policies.
The Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School
Celebrating 15 Years in 2017
Read the feature spread on 15 years of the Kuwait Program at HKS from the 2017 Mosaic below.
The Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholars Program
The Middle East Initiative hosts senior policymakers and academics to engage with students and faculty as a visiting scholar for one semester as part of the Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School. Applications from scholars working on contemporary issues of policy relevance in the disciplines of political science, economics, history, and sociology are particularly welcome. All visiting scholars are expected to either:
- Conduct a research project preferably with a Harvard Kennedy School faculty member; or
- Lead a not-for credit eight week study group on a topic relevant to policy and development in the Middle East and North Africa.
In some cases, visiting scholars may be asked to teach a course on campus. Visiting scholars are expected to participate in Middle East Initiative activities and engage in informal interchange with students and faculty. The visiting scholar is required to be in residence for the semester and must be available to students throughout his/her time on campus. The program will provide the visiting scholar $5,000 a month and a housing allowance.
Please note the Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholars program is not currently accepting applications.
Former Visiting Scholars
Mr. Hedi Larbi (2015-2016)
Former Minister Hedi Larbi was the 2015-2016 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar. Prior to his appointment at Harvard Kennedy School, he served as Advisor to the MENA Vice President at the World Bank, and from January 2014 to February 2015 served as both the Minister of Economic Infrastructure and Sustainable Development and the Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister in Tunisia. Mr. Larbi has over 35 years of professional experience in economic and social development as both a policy advisor and policy maker, with more than two decades of high level work in the World Bank Group, the private sector (in Europe and the Middle East and North Africa), and the Tunisian transition government.
At MEI, Mr. Larbi led a study group, Rewriting the Arab Social Contract: Toward Inclusive Development and Politics in the Arab World, that aimed to address the economic and social issues at the root of the Arab uprisings.
Prof. Michael C. Hudson (spring 2015)
Professor Michael C. Hudson was the spring 2015 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar and is the is the Seif Ghobash Professor of Arab Studies and International Affairs, Emeritus at Georgetown University. During his semester at MEI, he led a study group, Rethinking the Arab State: The Collapse of Legitimacy in Arab Politics, that featured Middle East experts from a variety of disciplines in an effort to re-examine the foundational concepts of legitimacy, the state, civil society, religion, and regional stability in the wake of the Arab uprisings.
Dr. Abbas Al-Mejren (fall 2014)
Dr. Abbas Al-Mejren was the fall 2014 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar and is a professor of economics at the College of Business Administration at Kuwait University. He is also an expert consultant to Kuwait's Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Kuwait Industrial Bank. During his semester at MEI, he conducted research on assessing the development policies of oil rich, rentier states in the Gulf, as well as teh application of the global standard indictors and criteria used to evaluate development policy success of these states.
Prof. Mohamad Al-Ississ (spring 2014)
Professor Mohamad Al-Ississ was the spring 2014 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar and is currently the Associate Dean of Administration, Undergraduate Studies, and Public Outreach at the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and Assistant Professor in the School of Business at the American University in Cairo. During his semester at MEI, he engaged in research on the determinants of democracy preferences of people in the Middle East, examining how these preferences evolved after the Arab Spring when security collapsed and uncertainty increased. He also recorded lectures for the first massive open online course (MOOC) to be conducted entirely in Arabic as part of Edraak, an initiative of Harvard and MIT’s EdX and the Queen Rania Foundation.
Prof. Djavad Salehi-Isfahani (fall 2013)
Professor Djavad Salehi-Isfahani was the fall 2013 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar and is Professor of Economics at Virginia Tech and a non-resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. During his semester at MEI, he led a study group on The Politics and Economics of Transitions in the Middle East that sought to illuminate the challenges governments face when trying to stabilize their economies at a time when revolutions have raised expectations for redistribution and jobs.
Prof. Ellis Goldberg (spring 2013)
Professor Ellis Goldberg was the spring 2013 Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar and is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Washington. He specializes in the study of Middle Eastern Politics and was a Guggenheim Fellow at Princeton University in 2012. During his semester at MEI, Professor Goldberg taught "Politics of the Arab Spring," a course in the Democracy, Politics and Institutions (DPI) concentration at HKS.
The Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School is made possible through funding from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS).
About the Kuwait Program
The Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School is generously supported by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS). The Kuwait Program, housed at the Middle East Initiative, serves current and emerging leaders and decision-makers of various institutions in Kuwait, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the wider Arab world through unique opportunities for cooperation on advanced research, teaching, training and outreach on critical issues of importance to Kuwait and the region. Please click the links below to learn more about the various components of the Kuwait Program:
Kuwait Researcher Program
The Middle East Initiative hosts an academic from Kuwait each spring to either conduct a research project or lead a study group on a topic relevant to policy and development in the Middle East and North Africa. Priority will be given to applications pursuing one of these primary areas of focus: (1) economic development in the Gulf; (2) political reform in the Gulf; or (3) energy policy.
For: Researchers and faculty ranging from postdoctoral to the senior level. Applicants must be either a Kuwaiti national or currently residing in Kuwait.
Length: Appointments may vary in length for up to one semester (about 4 months)
Application Deadline: Applications for Spring 2019 open on July 2, 2018. The deadline to apply is September 2, 2018, and letters of recommendation are due September 17, 2018.
As part of the Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School, the Middle East Initiative hosts one academic from Kuwait, ranging from the postdoctoral to senior level, each spring, for up to one semester. The Kuwait Researcher is expected to either conduct a research project preferably with a Harvard Kennedy School faculty member to conclude in a 25-30 page working paper, or lead a not-for-credit study group on a topic relevant to policy and development in the Middle East and North Africa. Scholars working on contemporary issues of policy relevance in the fields of political science, economics, sociology, and public policy are encouraged to apply.
Eligible candidates include researchers and faculty ranging from recent recipients of a Ph.D. or equivalent degree up to the senior level. Applicants must be either a Kuwaiti national or currently residing in Kuwait. We welcome applications from political scientists, economists, sociologists, and other social scientists.
Priority will be given to applications pursuing one of these primary areas of focus:
- Economic Development in the Gulf: Economic development and structural diversification; Building a stronger private sector; attracting foreign investment and managing civil risks
- Political Reform in the Gulf: Regulatory and legal reform; Strategic planning and crisis analysis/control; Arab political reform
- Energy Policy: Externality impacts of energy development; renewable options
The Kuwait Researcher is expected to either:
- Lead a not-for-credit study group on a topic relevant to policy and development in the Middle East and North Africa
- Conduct a research project preferably with a Harvard Kennedy School faculty member to conclude in a 25-30 page Middle East Initiative Working Paper as well as a presentation open to the public
The Kuwait Researcher is also expected to be physically present at Harvard for the duration of the appointment, which may vary in length for up to one semester, and to participate in Middle East Initiative activities as appropriate.
The Middle East Initiative will provide the Kuwait Researcher $5,000 per month, for the duration of the appointment, in addition to a $2,500 per month housing allowance.
The following application materials must be uploaded in .PDF format in the application portal:
- Study Group and/or Research Proposal (3-5 pages)
- Writing Sample (less than 50 pages)
- Names and contact information for three recommenders submitting letters on your behalf
Applications for the Spring 2019 Kuwait Researcher Program will open on July 2, 2018, and will be accessible on this webpage at that time. The deadline to apply is September 2, 2018, and letters of recommendation are due September 17, 2018.
For more information, contact Middle_East_Initiative@hks.harvard.edu.
The Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School is made possible through funding from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS).
The Middle East at Harvard
Harvard University's teaching, research, and fellowship activities span the globe and take many forms.
Harvard Worldwide allows users to search for activities by geography, by activity type, by the Harvard School in which the activity is housed, by keyword, or by any combination of these.
Centers & Programs
- The Center for Middle Eastern Studies
- Arabic and Islamic Studies (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
- Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program
- Islamic Legal Studies Program (Harvard Law School)
- Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture
- Center for the Study of World Religions
- Middle Eastern Collection, Harvard Libraries
- Abraham Path Initiative (Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School)
- Harvard Arab Alumni Association
- Harvard Armenian Society
- Harvard College Interfaith Council
- Harvard College Turkish Student Association
- Harvard Hillel
- Harvard Islamic Society
- Harvard Iranian Students Association
- Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee
- Harvard Progressive Jewish Alliance
- Harvard Middle Eastern Cultural Association
- Harvard Near Eastern Society (HNES)
- Harvard Society of Arab Students
- Middle East and North Africa Club (Business School)
- Middle Eastern Law Students Association (Law School)
Executive Education at Harvard
Audio recordings of select Middle East Initiative public events, listed in reverse chronological order. For more details on events, click on the Events tab of the website, above.
*The views expressed by guest speakers and others on the podcast do not represent the views of the Middle East Initiative, the Belfer Center, Harvard Kennedy School, or Harvard University.
Research Fellows Working Papers
The Psychology of Repression and Polarization in Authoritarian Regimes
Elizabeth Nugent | June 2018
Weapons of the Marginalized: Authoritarian Bargaining Under the Threat of Sabotage
Trevor Johnston | May 2017
Sanctions and Export Deflection: Evidence from Iran
Jamal Ibrahim Haidar | January 2017
Social and Institutional Origins of Political Islam
Steven Brooke | August 2016
Unions of Brokers of Transition from Authoritarian Rule: Insights from Tunisia
Dina Bishara | June 2016
The Electoral Legacies of War
Amanda Rizkallah | June 2016
A Model of Praetorian States
Yasser El-Shimy | June 2016
Equality of Human Opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa
Atiyeh Vahidmanesh | June 2015
Social Instability, Policy Uncertainty, and Financial Risk: Evidence from the Egyptian Exchange and Borse de Tunis
Muhammed Y. Idris | June 2015
Threat Perceptions and State Violence in Egypt: Low-Intensity Coercion under Mubarak
Jean Lachapelle | Dec. 3, 2014
Great Expectations: The Growth of Institutional Philanthropy in the United Arab Emirates
Paula D. Johnson, Taufiq Rahim | Apr. 30, 2018
The Geopolitics of Renewable Energy
Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Can Soylu | June 28, 2017
What Do Syrians Want Their Future to Be?
Kristin E. Fabbe, Chad Hazlett, Tolga Sinmazdemir | May 1, 2017
University-Industry Collaboration in Science and Technology in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates
Rebecca Stern, Afreen Siddiqi, Laura Diaz Anadon, Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti | March 2017
Scientific Wealth in Middle East and North Africa: Productivity, Indigeneity, and Specialty in 1981–2013
Afreen Siddiqi, Jonathan Stoppani, Laura Diaz Anadon, Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti | November 2016
Arab Responses to Western Hegemony: Experimental Evidence from Egypt
Elizabeth Nugent, Tarek Masoud, Amaney Jamal | July 21, 2016
Using the Qur’ān to Empower Arab Women? Theory and Experimental Evidence From Egypt
Tarek Masoud, Elizabeth Nugent, Amaney Jamal | Mar. 30, 2016
The Energy Implications of a Nuclear Deal between the P5+1 and Iran
Meghan L. O'Sullivan | July 14, 2015
The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform
Tarek Masoud | Apr. 26, 2015
A Political Economy of the Middle East
Ishac Diwan, Melani Cammett | March 17, 2015
Why Do Islamists Provide Services, and What Do Those Services Do?
Tarek Masoud | Oct. 9, 2014
Choosing an Electoral System
Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Razzaq al-Saiedi | April 29, 2014
Understanding Revolution in the Middle East: The Central Role of the Middle Class
Ishac Diwa | May 2013
The Road to (and from) Liberation Square
Tarek Masoud | July 14, 2011
Visiting Scholars and Senior Fellows
Are Export Sanctions Effective?
Jamal Ibrahim Haidar | September 2016
Globalization and its Discontents in the Middle East and North Africa
Robert Springborg | August 1, 2016
Regional Infrastructure Cooperation: Connecting Countries to Stabilize the Middle East
Hedi Larbi | June 20, 2016
Rewriting the Arab Social Contract
Hedi Larbi | May 16, 2016
Going beyond Doing Business to Foster Job Creation in Arab Countries
Jamal Ibrahim Haidar, Hedi Larbi | April 2016
Who are the million migrants who entered Europe without a visa in 2015?
Philippe Fargues | April 2016
In The Same Boat: Morocco's Experience with Migrant Regularization
January 22, 2016
"2015: The Year We Mistook Refugees for Invaders"
Philippe Fargues | January 4, 2016
The Politics of Ignoring: Protest Dynamics in Late Mubarak Egypt
Dina Bishara | December 2015
Immigration vs. Population in the Gulf
Philippe Fargues | November 11, 2015
Addressing Irregular Migration in the Gulf States
Philippe Fargues | November 2015
The Crisis of the Arab State
August 11, 2015
Migration from North Africa and the Middle East
Philippe Fargues | June 30, 2015
Lebanon in the Syria Quagmire
Ishac Diwan | February 2015
Harvard Field Study Course: International Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis
Claude Bruderlein | January 29, 2014