- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Students See Middle East Challenges Firsthand

Spring 2015

More than 40 Harvard students traveled to the Middle East over the winter break to assess–firsthand–the rehabilitation needs of Syrian refugees in Jordan and alternative energy and environmental challenges and opportunities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Belfer Center’s Middle East Initiative supported the field visits.

Fifteen students from Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies were in Jordan for a three-week experiential learning course led by HSPH/HKS Professor Claude Bruderlein with assistance from Belfer Center fellow Nawaf Obaid. The students examined strategic approaches for navigating long-term challenges and dilemmas of some of the most complex political and humanitarian issues. A documentary about the course will be released this spring.

“The course not only taught us about the Syrian refugee crisis, but also equipped us with frameworks for thinking critically about broader intractable problems,” said HKS student Sofia Quesada.

In the UAE, 27 students from 17 countries participated in a field visit to take a first-hand look at issues of energy and the environment as part of the Emirates Leadership Initiative at HKS. Highlights of the visit, co-organized by the Center for Public Leadership, included attending the opening ceremonies of the World Future Energy Summit, meeting with the UAE minister of the environment and secretary-general of the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, touring Masdar City, a planned city that relies on solar energy and renewable energy sources, and meeting with officials in the prime minister’s office and Dubai Executive Council to discuss extensive performance management systems for federal and local government services.

“Programs like these offer students an opportunity to learn first-hand realities on the ground in the Middle East,” said Hilary Rantisi, director of the Middle East Initiative. “We have seen that such experiences are often transformative for students, and we plan to continue to offer them annually, in addition to our ongoing support of student travel to the region for research and internships.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Students See Middle East Challenges Firsthand.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Spring 2015).