UNC Mideast Center Hosts Final Cohort of Carnegie Fellowships in Support of Arab Region Social Science

January 17, 2018

Mariam Alkazemi, Gulf University for Science & Technology, with advisor Deb Aikat and UNC Mideast Center program director, Charles Kurzman.

In fall 2017, the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations was pleased to host its final cohort of early-career social scientists from universities in the Arab world for semester-long fellowships. The fellowship program was made possible by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and directed by Charles Kurzman and Carl Ernst, co-directors of the UNC Mideast Center.

During the four years of the program, seven fellows came to UNC to work with a faculty mentor, participate in research groups and audit graduate courses. The program was designed to provide an intensive academic experience with advanced methodological training for Arab social scientists at a formative stage of their career. Scholars in various fields participated in the program, including those in communications, economics, political science and sociology.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was honored to be selected as a Carnegie Fellows site and fortunate to have such interesting scholars to work with over the past four years. Their presence has enriched our campus and inspired colleagues and students,” said Kurzman.

For the final cohort, the UNC Mideast Center welcomed Mariam Alkazemi from the Gulf University for Science & Technology in Kuwait City, Kuwait and Shimaa Hatab from the American University in Cairo, Egypt to spend the fall 2017 semester at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Throughout its duration, the fellowship successfully connected Arab social scientists with resources at UNC-Chapel Hill and at the annual Middle East Studies Association conference. “This is a very noble initiative as the region’s universities sometimes lack the support offered by library services, statistical consultation and interdisciplinary centers available at U.S. public universities,” said Alkazemi.

Scholars had the opportunity to gain new connections, new social science skills and new perspectives related to their research. Each cohort of fellows presented their research at a colloquium for UNC faculty, staff and graduate students at the end of their fellowship.

“My interactions with faculty and students alike were insightful and added a perspective that I found valuable,” Alkazemi stated. “I look forward to returning to Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait with a refreshed perspective, and have recently accepted a position in the Robertson School of Media and Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to begin in the fall of 2018. VCU has a campus in Doha, Qatar, and the potential to work with institutions in the Arab Gulf states and the United States east coast is exciting.”