Alongside the support of a generous grant provided by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the American University of Beirut (AUB) was able to successfully establish and launch a new graduate program in Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA), after its formal approval by the New York State Board and Lebanese Ministry of Education in 2014. The program, conceived as the academic side of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI), builds on AUB’s distinguished reputation as the preeminent liberal arts institution in the region, while also building on the research and policy experience of IFI. The first cohort of students began their Masters program in PPIA during the Fall 2015 semester. The IDRC Project Leader, Dr. Karim Makdisi, chaired the steering committee that produced the final proposal to establish the PPIA Program and then served as its first Director. During this 2-3 year process, he attended many consultation meetings with, and presented proposal updates to, key academic units, relevant faculty members, and various layers of committees within the AUB faculties, Board of Graduate Studies, University Senate and Board of Trustees. Supported by the IDRC grant, Dr. Makdisi visited key universities in Europe, Asia and the Arab world that offer similar graduate programs; and met with professors and administrators from relevant departments and schools, to hear firsthand their experience in the conception and foundation of such graduate programs. The idea behind these trips was to strengthen the PPIA proposal and think through potential partnerships and opportunities for students and faculty alike; and to seek the perspectives and learn lessons from regional and international institutions and individuals. In October 2015, during the very first semester of the PPIA program, Dr. Makdisi and Ms. Rima Rassi, PPIA Program Manager, hosted scholars and practitioners to a full day informal brainstorming seminar to discuss the proposed MA program curriculum, design and rationale; as well as reflect on the specific role of such a program in the Arab world, in particular following the uprisings and the ensuing shifting regional dynamics. This seminar, hosted at AUB-IFI, gathered around twenty local, regional and international scholars, as well as many AUB professors involved in this endeavor. Indeed, the PPIA program fills an important need in the region. Through integrating politics, policy, economics and other social science research perspectives, this program offers students the opportunity to deepen their conceptual, critical, and practical knowledge of public policy and international affairs, with a focus on the challenges facing the Arab region.

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International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Makdisi, K., & Rassi, R. (2016). Teaching Public Policy for the Arab World. Retrieved from