About

​​​The ​Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdelaziz Alsaud Center​​​ for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at AUB is one of several centers that make up the Alwaleed Network, a series of academic centers around the world that is committed to promoting better understanding between the Arab and Islamic worlds and the West. Since it was established in 2003, CASAR has become a unique center for the academic study of America in a transnational context. Our work blends ​traditional academic teaching with interdisciplinary conferences, research funding and output, and cultural events such as plays, film screenings, and lectures that cover topics ranging from traditional scholarship, to the arts, to journalism. ​​​

We at CASAR ​work to promote interdisciplinary and cross-cultural teaching, research, and programming. Although we are in the Arab world, our work in American studies is not limited to studying the political and economic role that the United States plays in this region. Instead, our academic and cultural activities seek to delve into the historical, cultural, and political cross-currents of influence that run throughout the Americas​, Europe, and the Middle East. Through research, teaching, and programming that reaches both our local Lebanese community and the international academic community, CASAR is committed to operating at the leading edge of knowledge production in transnational American studies.​

Mission

The Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at the American University of Beirut aims to establish and maintain a world-class locus of activity and exchange of ideas for an interdisciplinary community of researchers, teachers, students and others in the Middle East interested in building further understanding of American institutions and practices (political, social, economic, cultural) and the complex contextual realities in which these institutions and practices have developed and currently exist. CASAR's mission has three specific components: 

1) the TEACHING component aims to provide students with basic knowledge about American institutions and practices in an interdisciplinary way;

2) the RESEARCH component aims to promote interdisciplinary research and academic exchange on a range of topics, with particular attention to exploring the Arab-American Encounter through historical and contemporary perspectives, using both descriptive and comparative analytical frameworks;

3) the OUTREACH component aims to facilitate an open exchange of ideas and to enhance understanding among local, regional, and international communities (both academic and non-academic) with respect to American institutions and practices in context, as well as all aspects of the Arab-American encounter.


History

The Center for American Studies and Research at AUB was established in 2003 as result of a generous $5.2 million endowment from His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, making the center one of six Alwaleed centers dedicated to Arab, Islamic, and American studies throughout the world. At the time of its formation, Prince Alwaleed and the president of AUB at the time, John Waterbury, signed an agreement stating that: "the aim of the center is to promote better understanding between the United States of America and the Arab world, and to deepen knowledge in the Arab world of American society, politics, history, culture, and institutions through teaching, research, and outreach programs." 

During the summer of that year, a steering committee from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was formed to develop the program. A full year of planning, consultation, and discussion laid the groundwork for all subsequent activities. The committee was initially chaired by Yahya Sadowski, associate professor of political studies. In January 2004, leadership of the committee was assumed jointly by Marjorie Henningsen, assistant professor of education, and David Koistinen, assistant professor of history. In September 2004, Professor Patrick McGreevy was appointed as the center's first director. From its first days, CASAR established a minor in American studies, hired visiting professors, initiated grants for AUB faculty and graduate students, established a lecture series, and began to sponsor international conferences.​

Since then, under the stewardship of a shifting steering committee and director, the center has undergone various changes in its academic and programming direction, responding to disciplinary changes, the fluid political environment, and the need to continue refreshing its approach to the field of American studies. Since the beginning of 2018, with the meeting of an International Symposium on Transnational American Studies and the holding of a conference on cultural, historical links between the Arab world, Europe, and the Americas, under the title of “Latin America, al-Andalus, and the Arab World," CASAR has begun to move in a decidedly eclectic direction, evolving beyond the discipline's traditionally narrow focus on the United States and its foreign policy. In addition to teaching and research models which examine the United State's role in the Arab world, the center works to provide a space and resources for interdisciplinary and historical engagement with the complex process of cultural movement which constitutes the cultural and political complexity of the Americas, and which connects them with the rest of the world.


Alwaleed Philanthropies

​CASAR is one of several centers worldwide that were created by Alwaleed Philanthopies. The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Global Academic Centers​​​ were created as part of Alwaleed Philanthopies effort to change perceptions and contribute to the production of knowledge about Islam and the West. Through forums, programming, and dialogue, these educational centers were established in order to improve international and cross-cultural understanding. The other centers are:

​Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center of Islamic Studies at Cambridge University

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World at Edinburgh University

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for American Studies and Research at the
American University in Cairo