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Topics / Arab Region Transitions

Eight Grants for Social Science Innovation in the Arab Region

$4.15 million in new support for policy development through university-based innovation and partnerships

Turmoil in the Middle East often holds center stage. Behind the headlines, the Arab knowledge sector is applying its research and creative thinking toward novel approaches to a region experiencing generational change. To spark problem-solving analysis and action, Carnegie Corporation of New York today announced eight new grants to mobilize both seasoned and rising experts in the Arab region’s social science and humanities communities.

The two-year grants, totaling $4.15 million, result from a competitive, two-stage selection process among 40 applicants. The projects involve universities and think tanks in the Middle East and the United States. 

Projects receiving funding include:

  • The Arab Consumer Citizen Lab to apply behavioral insights to a variety of public policy challenges including economic development, access to education, and rule of law;
  • Partnerships between Iraqi universities and Iraq’s Ministry of Education to expand social science scholarship, foster interdisciplinary studies, and support the liberal arts in undergraduate education;
  • Linkages between departments of social science and of religion at universities in four countries to help find ways to foster collaboration between the two academic disciplines;
  • An Arab Public Data Initiative to offer training for library researchers and scholars in quantitative methods, data access, and archiving at a time when sources of reliable information are increasingly critical.

“With these grants, we recognize and support the activity, connection and impact of the region’s knowledge sector as they tackle policy-relevant topics,” said Hillary Wiesner, Carnegie Corporation of New York’s program director of Transnational Movements and the Arab Region. “All of these projects were initiated by scholars within the region. All address issues that they identified as relevant and pressing. It’s a demonstration of institutions in the region combining research and action together with their educational mission.”

The following institutions will receive grants:

Nudge Lebanon
Beirut, Lebanon: $500,000 to set up the first nongovernmental Arab Consumer Citizen Lab to improve public policy through the use of behavioral sciences in national policies and public services. The Consumer Citizen Lab will extend the discipline of behavioral economics to universities in the Arab region, build the capacity of students and future practitioners, and support problem solving by stakeholders, including government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academics.

American University in Cairo
New York, NY: $600,000 to facilitate work by policy specialists developing creative solutions to challenges facing Egypt; to study the evolution of social movements particularly in Egypt and Jordan; and to engage the region’s trends in religious and social thought. 

American University of Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon: $650,000 to employ civil society solutions for better governance in the Arab region, and to connect departments of social science with departments of religion to improve collaboration between the academic disciplines at universities in four countries. Subjects will include citizenship, religion and governance, human rights, international law, and the evolving roles of state and nonstate actors.

Lebanese-American University
Beirut, Lebanon: $600,000 to address long-term challenges in gender equity, inclusive governance, and legal reform in Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, and Lebanon, through the establishment of regional research networks among policymakers, legal experts, and scholars.

University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN: $500,000 to expand and support economics research and anti-poverty policy development by establishing a research working group in Cairo, Egypt, for junior researchers; and to provide summer training, workshops and mentoring to craft economic studies for broad dissemination throughout the Arab region.

Friends of the British Council
Washington D.C.: $500,000 to improve social service provision and poverty alleviation in six countries through the Middle East and North Africa Social Policy Network. The Network will build the policymaking abilities of academic and student networks to advise state decision makers by working in tandem with established programs of United Nations agencies and other international organizations. 

The American Academic Research Institute in Iraq
Chicago, IL: $400,000 to expand social science methods and training in Iraqi universities and create networks of Iraqi and international scholars in partnership with the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. The work will include an evaluation of the current state of undergraduate education and will engage the five main undergraduate universities in Iraq: Mosul University, Salahaddin University in Erbil, Baghdad University and its Beit al- Hikma Center, Kufa University, and Basra University.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC: $400,000 to train junior library researchers and scholars in quantitative methods, data access, and archiving through an Arab Public Data Initiative, a partnership among Arab and North American social scientists designed to boost access to reliable information sources in the region.