Social Sciences at Arab Universities: Opportunities and Constraints

27.-28.02.2014, Workshop, OI Istanbul

3rd workshop of the Arab-German Research Project "Local, Regional and International 'Borrowing and Lending' in Social Science Departments at Egyptian and Lebanese Universities", Orient-Institut Beirut, 26 to 28 February 2014.

Social sciences and humanities at Arab universities are often described as suffering from a lack of academic freedom. However, institutional autonomy and the individual academic’s opportunities and constraints in Arab countries seem to differ considerably between institutions and individuals conducting social sciences and humanities research and education under different configurations of local, regional and international influences from the state, the market and civil society.

From April 2012 to November 2013, an Egyptian-German team of educational researchers explored conditions under which opportunities and constraints vary between different universities in two Arab countries, Egypt and Lebanon, in cooperation between the Orient-Institut Beirut and the Ruhr-University of Bochum and funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. The aim was to outline formal institutional structures through analyses of laws, regulations and statistics, and to describe, with the help of ethno-methodology, how individual academics operate within them, not least under the conditions of recent and ongoing political change. The focus was on correlations between institutional and individual autonomy and between institutional autonomy and the services an institution offers to its clientele. The sample of institutions comprised educational and political science departments at six universities, two of them based in Lebanon and four in Egypt.

The results are intended to benefit educational planners in their strive to increase academic freedom and  to advance quality in the teaching and research of social sciences, as well as individuals and institutions searching for partners for academic cooperation in the two countries. Therefore, all sessions of the workshop are public. They shall present some of the evidence produced in the frame of our project, discuss them with participants in the project as well as experts independent from it, and juxtapose them with research done in neighbouring fields. Different kinds of Arab higher education institutions, public and private, shall be characterized in light of their local role and their connectivity with regional and international academia.

Further Information and Programme