The AUB Neighborhood Initiative was established in 2007 to lead AUB’s engagement with its neighborhood. The initiative encourages AUB faculty and students to become engaged with issues of concern to our neighbors in Ras Beirut through a mix of research, outreach, and advocacy activities.
The initiative team works collaboratively across the university with faculty, students, staff, and administrators, and also with neighborhood residents, businesses, and public sector decisionmakers.
Initiative research and outreach projects and other activities respond to priorities of neighborhood residents from different social and economic backgrounds around themes ranging from the urban environment, community and well-being, to diversity and urban transformations.
The Neighborhood Initiative’s programmatic activities are currently funded by international foundations. To date, the Initiative has received substantial support from the Ford Foundation Office for the Middle East and North Africa.
The initiative works with students, faculty, and staff members from all seven faculties at AUB, and with units such as the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS), Jafet Library, the Continuing Education Center (CEC), the Facilities, Planning and Design Unit, the Office of Protection, and the Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management Department.
Every activity undertaken by the initiative is defined and carried out collaboratively with concerned academic and administrative units of AUB.
Cynthia Myntti is the founding director of the Neighborhood Initiative. She was a professor of public health practice at AUB’s Faculty of Health Sciences from 2006 to 2016. An AUB alumna (MA ’74), Myntti earned a PhD in social anthropology at the London School of Economics (1983), a master’s of public health from Johns Hopkins University (1986), and a master’s of architecture from Yale University (2004).
Mona El Hallak is the current director of the Neighborhood Initiative. An AUB alumna (B Arch ’91) with a master’s of architecture from Syracuse University-Florence Program, El Hallak joined AUB in January 2017. She is, to quote AUB President Fadlo Khuri, “a remarkable and resolute advocate of the causes of urban renewal and heritage preservation.”