"Co-directing the project 'Challenges and Transformations in the Wake of the Arab Spring' was always an inspiration and pleasure. Between 2012 and 2015, we interacted with students, researchers, professors, policy advisors, administrations and trainers while conducting international seminars and summer schools, receiving didactical training, preparing and hosting a conference, preparing a book and discussing curricula as well as teaching methods. We were eager to do so in a spirit of partnership and participation and most of the time we achieved what we set out for. The project was implemented in times of rapid and sometimes violent change, which set quite different trajectories for us and our colleagues in Jordan, Tunisia, and Libya. We were constantly reflecting on these challenges and they encouraged us even more to embark on a process of mutual learning, which will not stop even if the project comes to an end."
Freie Universität Berlin has a long history of cooperation with Egypt. Since the opening of Freie Universität’s Cairo Liaison Office in 2010, new cross-sectoral networks have been established, systematically linking Freie Universität’s to Egypt’s academic, political and administrative landscape. Cairo University is a prime partner in this network. Since the 25th January revolution, we have closely observed the changes, and have set up platforms in Cairo for academically-driven analyses of the ongoing transformation process. The Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics main fields of research and teaching focus on contemporary political, social and cultural transformations in the region based on critical and qualitative approaches. It has hosted EU, DFG and DAAD funded research and cooperation projects and is directed by Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders.
The project is based on a firmly established institutionalized partnership between Freie Universität’s Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at Otto Suhr Institute and Cairo University’s Faculty for Economics and Political Science and its EuroMed Study program (MA and PhD level). The cooperation between the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics and the Faculty for Economics and Political Science dates back to 1999. Then, the Master Degree Program Euro Mediterranean Studies (MastEuroMed) was set up through an EU-TEMPUS-MEDA Grant, involving Freie Universität Berlin and three other European universities. Since then, the MA program has been expanded to include a PHD program as well. Within the framework of this project three joint seminars were held. The fourth Joint German Egyptian Seminar took place during the winter term 2009/2010 under the joint supervision of DAAD Prof. Dr. Patricia Bauer, Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders and Prof. Dr. Ola el Khawaga, with substantial financial support from the DAAD and other sponsors. Building on these relations of trust has been and remains as much key for success. This institutional set-up guarantees a locally grounded approach.
Founded in 2005 by Royal Decree, the German Jordanian University is one of the newer institutions of higher education in the region and, therefore, an excellent partner for innovation in teaching. The German Jordanian University plays a significant role in promoting links between Jordan and Europe. Its current curriculum focuses on applied sciences and business, with plans to develop a social science component. Freie Universität Berlin has already contributed to kick-start this process by holding a seasonal school on “Regional Dynamics in the Middle East: Local and European Responsibilities” at the German Jordanian University in September 2011 with the participation of staff from the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics. This strengthens social sciences at the German Jordanian University and institutionalizes the preparation of Jordanian students for their semester abroad at a German university. Our cooperation partners at the German Jordanian University are Vice President Prof. Dr. Anton Mangstl and economist Prof. Dr. Serena Sandri from the School of Management.
With the involvement of Prof. Dr. Amal Obeidi from the University of Benghazi, Political Science Department at the Faculty of Economics, the project acquired a multilateral collaborative nature and an enhanced inter-Arab dimension. This was reflected in the workshops and seminars organized in the framework of the project and was further enhanced with the involvement of Prof. Dr. Mohamed Kerrou from the University of Tunis El-Manar whose university hosted the Arab Revolutions and Beyond: Change and Persistence conference organized by project partners in 2013. In 2014, this developed into a nascent partnership with Prof. Dr. Abdessatar Mouelhi, director of the Institut National du Travail et des Etudes Sociales at Université de Carthage in Tunis, and Prof. Dr. Wafa Harar Masmoudi, Associate Professor of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Management of Jendouba. With the engagement of Prof. Mouelhi, whose research interests include social governance, trade unions and labor movements, and migrant labor, and Prof. Masmoudi, whose research focuses on political transitions in the Middle East and Africa and on constitutional policies, the project gained a truly collaborative, international, and interdisciplinary character with a wide array of scholars committed to academic rigor, innovative teaching, and with a strong interest in regional and international collaboration.