American University of Beirut

Arab Uprisings Research Initiative



    The Arab uprisings which started in December 2010 will undoubtedly be one of the most studied episodes of recent history. Accordingly, the office of the AUB Provost has launched a long-term, multi-sectoral research initiative on the Arab uprisings, aiming to harness the university's many resources and assets to engage constructively with the historic changes taking place across the Arab world. The revolutionary and transformational processes underway are dynamic, defined by many ups and downs, in one of the most complex geo-political regions in the world. The challenges of researching and understanding this pivotal moment in history - its causes, main actors, critical dynamics, changed power relations, and likely consequences - demand that critical research in multiple fields be defined by perspectives from across the region, and continue for years ahead rather than merely comprise an occasional conference or publication.

    The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) is managing this AUB-wide initiative, which was initiated in April 2011 with a five-member AUB faculty panel discussion moderated by the provost. This was followed by a trip to the USA by four faculty members and the AUB president, who held public events in half a dozen major east coast venues. The initiative has identified to date 20 AUB professors in different fields who are working on research projects related to the Arab uprisings and the transformations in society that they reflect, in fields such as political science, international affairs, psychology, youth attitudes and identities, public health, media studies, sociology, food and agriculture, civic engagement, democratization, economics, and others. A steering/advisory committee of 8 AUB professors, chaired by the provost, oversees this initiative.

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    Arab Public Policy Roundtable

    The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) will conduct research on the perceptions and present discourse of the “civil state”. This research will be done as part of the Arab Public Policy Roundtable, as a contribution to the American University of Beirut (AUB) wide research initiative on the Arab uprisings and part of the research being done at IFI on public policy in the Arab world.

    The first roundtable session brought together Arab scholars and academics to identify some key elements of a “civil state”. A summary of their findings will be published soon. In the present context, the notion of “civil state” is not free from ambiguity. Yet, and in spite of disagreements among political actors and intellectuals, of different persuasions, there is convergence in recognizing the popular demand for a national, constitutional, democratic and modern state.

    A second session on the civil state was organized on February 21st after the first round table that was held in September 2012. A number of academics and researchers participated in this session which discussed the nature of the desired 'civil state' in light of current developments in the Arab World. Participants expressed their views of this newly emerging concept and analyzed its implications on three levels: the political process (elections, constitution drafting,), freedom and human rights, and social equity.

    The Arab Public Policy Roundtable will strive to be a space for discussion and forward looking reflection on the civil state. Starting from its attempt to clarify the terms of the public debate in the Arab world regarding the process of state reform and state building, the forum will examine different practices in various Arab countries and their evolutions. It will conduct research and facilitate dialogue on the specific issues pertaining to the making of a “civil state” and, if possible, the formulation of policy orientations and/or proposals.

    Read the summary of the first roundtable discussion which was organized on the 4th of September.

    Read the summary of the second roundtable discussion which was organized on the 21th of February 2013. English | Arabic​

    Read the full publication of the Civil State آفاق الدولة المدنية بعد الانتفاضات العربية"


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