Middle East Mosaic 2011

| June 09, 2011

A year in review

We are excited to report on the work we have been doing in the 2010-2011 academic year. The unprecedented political changes on-going in the Arab Middle East have provided us with new vantage points for learning and application that we are actively pursuing.

There has never been a better time for dynamic interaction around Middle East issues. This year we held 44 public events in our speaker series, film series and special events. A forum on Tunisia and Egypt in February attracted 700 people and was watched by more than 8,000 online, making it the most-watched live stream in HKS history. We also held three conferences, two Executive Education programs in Kuwait and Jordan, and 12 Crown-Belfer seminars for Boston-based Middle East scholars. These are just some of our accomplishments this year.

I want to extend congratulations to all our graduating students. Thank you for supporting and engaging in our work during your time at HKS. We wish you all the best and hope you will stay in touch.


Hilary Rantisi
Director, Middle East Initiative


Celebrated 10 Years of Partnership with Kuwait:

In December, nine Harvard faculty members traveled to Kuwait for a conference and celebration of our 10 year partnership with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS). The celebration honored the Kuwait Program at Harvard which has four components: executive programs, sponsored research, fellowships for executives and a visiting professorship at the Harvard Kennedy School focused on the Gulf.

Increased Student Enrollment from the Middle East:

MEI assisted the HKS admissions office with recruiting efforts in the region. We are pleased that 52 students from the Middle East have been admitted to HKS for the 2011-2012 academic year. Of those admitted, 31 will be attending in the fall. We are especially pleased that the number of accepted students from the Arab world has doubled from last year.

Three Conferences:

Kuwait Program Conference - As part of a 10 year celebration of partnership with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, the Middle East Initiative held a conference in Kuwait in December. The event was attended by Harvard faculty and alumni of customized executive education programs and fellowships, and featured research funded through the Kuwait Program at Harvard. The conference also included four panel discussions, two on the international political situation in the region and two more focused on economic, energy and human development issues.

Islam and Muslim Societies - In early April, MEI co-sponsored a conference entitled “Islam and Muslim Societies: An Analytical Examination,” which addressed subjects like Muslim views of America, connections between Islam and financial markets, and the relationship between Islam and political participation. It was attended by 40 faculty and graduate students within the disciplines of economics, political science, and history.

Middle East Uprisings and Options for the United States – In May MEI co-sponsored a half-day conference with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. focused on the new protagonists in the region and options for U.S. involvement.


New this year:

New Harvard Working Group on the Middle East:

This spring, MEI helped form a new Harvard-wide working group to consider how the study of the Middle East region can and should innovate as a result of the political changes on-going in the Arab Middle East. The goal of the group is to comment on new research, teaching, and program trends on political change in the Arab Middle East. The group is made up of 15 faculty, student, staff, and research affiliates. Notes from the meetings will be collected and put into a working paper that will be used to advocate for new programs, projects, professor hires, and connection points with possible academic and funding partners in the region.

Crown – Belfer Middle East Seminar Series:

Since September, MEI has organized 12 events for a new seminar series co-chaired by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at HKS, and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. The series aims to assemble professors and experts from Boston area universities and encourage debate on issues in the Middle East and U.S. policy within the region. See Appendix A for list of speakers in this series.

Expanded Web Presence:

MEI got a web-based makeover this year with a new website and a Twitter account (@MiddleEast_HKS). To better document our events, we’ve also started posting event pictures on our Facebook fan page, and videos on our website’s “Multimedia” page.

Internship Initiative:

Historically, when students come to MEI looking for opportunities in the Middle East, we have sat down with a rolodex and dished out appropriate contacts. In an effort to streamline and expand this service, we have added a new “Opportunities” page to our website. It outlines how HKS students and employers in the region can find each other using existing HKS resources. If you are an employer interested in hiring HKS students, for internships or jobs, please let us know.

New Scholarships for Degree Students:

This year MEI helped secure three new fellowships for Arab students:

The Abu Dhabi Leadership Graduate Fellowship Fund - Established by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court to support Mason Program students who are citizens of the United Arab Emirates and are employed by the Abu Dhabi government. Recipients must commit to pursue a career in public service with the Abu Dhabi Government for a minimum of two years after completion of their degree program.

The Palestine Monetary Authority Graduate Public Service Fellowship Fund -Established by the Palestine Monetary Authority to support students who are citizens of the Palestinian Territories. Preference is given to students enrolled in the Master in Public Administration-International Development program. Recipients must commit to pursue a career in public service in the Palestinian Territories for a minimum of three years after completion of their degree program study at Harvard Kennedy School.

Mona Hammami Graduate Fellowship -Established to support students of the MPA/ID Program from Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Oman, occupied Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

New Regional Partnerships:

MEI is currently developing collaborative programs with the Issam Fares Institute at the American University in Beirut and is developing new programs and relationships in Egypt.

Middle East Policy Journal:

MEI is supporting the launch of a new policy journal focused on the Middle East, led by HKS students. The official launch will be in fall 2011.


Executive Education Programs:

MEI/HKS hosted two Executive Education programs this year. The first, in Kuwait, attracted 70 school principals to the third installment of an education reform program, organized as part of the Kuwait Program at Harvard.  A second program in Jordan brought together fifty-one participants from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. “Leading for the Future: The Arab Region in a Changing World” was organized in partnership with the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD), and included sessions on management strategies, globalization and economic performance, political development, competitiveness of Arab economies, negotiation simulations and public-private partnerships.

Executive Education Fellowship:

MEI awarded fellowships to 15 individuals to attend executive training programs at HKS and the Harvard Business School. The recipients included 13 Kuwaitis, sponsored through the Kuwait Program at Harvard.

Kuwait Program Research:

In the last 10 years, the Kuwait Program at Harvard has awarded 27 research grants to Harvard faculty. The research tackles questions of international relations, global public health, and natural resource management, as related to Kuwait and the Gulf states. A CD containing all the research papers is available from our office.

Public Events:

MEI held a total of 44 public events this year, including:

  • Four co-sponsored forum events
  • Four feature films from Iran, Algeria, Palestine and the UAE
  • Two documentary screenings
  • Our annual Harvard-wide Nowruz celebration
  • Five panel discussions
  • Twenty-seven lectures

See the entire list of events here.

Communications Workshop:

We held two communications workshops for native Arabic speaking students to improve their skills in public speaking. Students from across Harvard took advantage of the sessions, led by Harvard Arabic Preceptors Khaled Al-Masri and Nevenka Korica.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Janka, Noelle. Middle East Mosaic 2011. June 9, 2011.

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