Challenges and Transformations in the Wake of the Arab Spring
DAAD - Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst
A cooperation project to adress Social and Political Change through Teaching and Research funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
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The project addresses the challenges of the political and social transformations since 2011 and their ramifications for higher education and the social sciences in Egypt, the region and Germany. These transformations, indeed, are not unidirectional and are not limited to Arab countries. Main objectives are to intensify the link between teaching and research and to further participatory teaching in the social sciences in a sustainable and participatory way. Thus, in a spirit of partnership and mutual learning, the project is a commitment to build students’ capacities and strengthen institutional efforts to promote the role of social sciences in the current transformations. All partners share a strong interest in better academic teaching, more innovative research, and more engaged contributions to knowledge production. In addition to scholars at different stages of their academic career and from different disciplines (political sciences, economy, sociology, law), the project also reaches out to students and teaching staff strengthening networks within the region and beyond.
The project builds on the longstanding partnership between Cairo University and Freie Universität Berlin, specifically between the EuroMed Studies Programme at the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences (FEPS) and the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics respectively. Due to Cairo University’s outstanding position within Egypt’s Higher Education system and its important role as a regional hub, the project might also create regional multiplication effects. The EuroMed Studies program at the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences at Cairo University and the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politic at Freie Universität in Berlin serve as leading coordinators. The project also involves partners from Jordan (German Jordanian University), Tunisia (University of Tunis, El-Manar, University of Jendouba and Université de Carthage) and Libya (University of Benghazi). This led to the development of a dynamic and deep multilevel network, which included Arab-German as well as Arab-Arab exchanges. .
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The overarching goal of the project is to improve teaching and research in a sustainable and practical way by collaboratively developing methods to optimize the very core of teaching at the university. In this, the project focuses on areas where the need for ‘transformation’ is most deeply felt by project partners and their institutions. This collaborative effort demonstrated the complexities and hurdles involved in responding to broader social change in the rather rigid institutional structures of established institutions of higher learning in Germany and in the Arab World.
Egyptian project partners focus on curriculum development, and on forging a better link between research and teaching. In Jordan, the German Jordanian University aims to expand its focus on the applied sciences in order to include more conceptual social-science courses. The Tunisian and Libyan partners benefit from the regional exchange and the courses which are developed and might well be included in their own curricula in the future. The team of Freie Universität Berlin benefits from the constant exchange with high level social scientists from the Arab World and the curriculum development work, which affects teaching and research at Freie Universität.
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Project activities and events were collaboratively organized and implemented by the EuroMed Studies Programme at Cairo University, the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at Freie Universität Berlin, by German Jordanian University and the partners from the regional network in Tunisia (University of Tunis al Manar, University of Jendouba, and Université de Carthage) and Libya (University of Benghazi). Project activities included graduate and undergraduate student exchanges designed to enhance teaching experiences as well as staff exchanges involving junior and senior researchers from all partner institutions providing opportunities for joint research and training. In addition to student and staff exchanges, the conference Arab Revolutions and Beyond: Change and Persistence, organized in Tunisia in November 2013, was especially geared towards a broad participation of PhD and early-career postdoctoral researchers bringing together young researchers from Germany, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia and beyond. Building on participants’ teaching and research expertise, conference proceedings were published in 2014.
The project also provided an opportunity to co-organize several didactical training workshops, co-teaching and roundtable discussions on classroom experiences exploring the impact of political transformations on student experiences and teaching methods. Moreover, the project allowed for the adaptation and renewal of the EuroMed Studies Programme at Cairo University and the implementation of a new social-science course at German Jordanian University.
Summaries of our events are available in arabic here.