The American University of Beirut has won first place in the 2016 MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship in recognition of its Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) developing a “culture of service and civic leadership within the AUB community”.
The “MacJannet Prize for Global Citizenship” was launched in 2009 to recognize and support exceptional student community engagement initiatives and public service efforts. It was established by the Talloires Network, which an international association of institutions based at Tufts University and committed to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education, and the MacJannet Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation created in 1968 to promote and fund global citizenship and civic engagement initiatives.
This year, the selection committee evaluated 48 nominations of student leadership and civic engagement programs sent from 38 member universities in 18 countries. AUB’s Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service was recognized by the Prize for instilling since its inception in 2008 a culture of service and civic leadership through the four crosscutting components of its operations: Outreach and volunteerism, community development projects, service-learning initiatives, and university scholarship programs.
More specifically, AUB and the Center were recognized “for actively addressing the refugee crisis in Lebanon through student-based projects such as waste management campaigns, workshops, and toolkits to improve the communication and interpersonal skills of refugee students in the Bekaa region”. The Center also works with six refugee schools run by AUB, providing psychosocial treatment to thousands of refugee children.
“This prize is important to us because it emphasizes the positive impact that AUB students, faculty, and staff have been able to create through the CCECS and our community partners as we face one of the worst humanitarian crises of this century,” Director of CCECS, Dr. Rabih Shibli, told us. “We hope this recognition will encourage the growing civic engagement efforts by institutionalizing the culture of service-learning in all universities across the MENA region”.
The Center serves as a hub for bridging theory and practice through the dynamic interaction between academia, socially responsible stakeholders, and local community partners. It pushes the boundaries of civic engagement to tackle the most pressing challenges facing Lebanon and the region. Through its Syria Relief Project (SRP), CCECS championed interventions engaging refugees and their Lebanese host communities within the areas of education, shelter, sanitation, psychosocial wellbeing, and food security. Another CCECS project, “Ghata: Bringing Education to Informal Tented Settlements” is in partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Social Affairs (MoSA), Reach Out to Asia foundation (ROTA), and the local Lebanese NGO, KAYANY, has successfully assembled Ghata schools, catering to over 2,000 Syrian refugee children.
AUB continues to support community-engaged initiatives, learning, and research on local and regional concerns from the impact of war on children, emergency medicine, poverty, and the dearth of public spaces in Beirut, to rural economic development, public health, and the eradication of illiteracy and hunger in the Middle East. The Center for Civic Engagement and Community Services is a key tool within the University that utilizes an assets-based approach and builds capacities within the community at the same time developing civic capacities of its student volunteers.
In 2015, AUB, represented by the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS), was ranked as the “most civically engaged campus” in the Middle East and North Africa by the Ma’an Alliance for Arab Universities – a regional platform affiliated with the international Talloires Network.