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GSS 2013
 

The Center for Gulf Studies at the American University of Kuwait will hold its second Gulf Studies Symposium (GSS) on 13-15 March 2015. The GSS is a meeting of worldwide Gulf scholars and researchers held biennially in Kuwait. Each symposium is based on a particular scholarly theme that is timely both to the region and to the field of Gulf studies. The theme of the 2015 GSS is "Knowledge-Based Development in the Gulf."

Arab Gulf states increasingly utilize the phrase "knowledge economy" in their development strategies. Policy reports and national strategic plans emphasize the need to move away from natural resource dependency towards "knowledge-based" development, where knowledge, skills, and innovation supposedly drive economic success and competitive advantage. To this end, significant investment in higher education has become a principal strategy across the GCC states. However, what exactly constitutes "knowledge economy" is not always clear, and there is limited research about the on-the-ground negotiations, experiences, challenges, successes, and failures that go into this form of development. For example, while numerous branch campuses of prestigious Western universities and/or local universities built on Western (mainly American) higher education models have been established over the past decade, they are not uniform in their effects, nor do we know much about the diverse experiences faculty, students, and staff have at these institutions. Building a knowledge economy has also become a major component of urban development, with the construction of enormous university campuses and other educational and research spaces. How these new forms of built environment impact urban life is also understudied.

While the higher education sector has been promoted as the keystone of Gulf knowledge economies, fewer resources have been invested in improving the state of national school systems at the primary and secondary levels, in preparing Gulf nationals to attend Western-style colleges and universities, or in promoting local research capacity to replace the overreliance on international consultants in fields like urban planning, environmental protection, and healthcare, among others. Furthermore, although previously sidelined groups like youth and women have become the focus of many knowledge economy goals, others like Bedouin, Shi'a, the bidūn (stateless), and particularly non-nationals remain marginalized in national development across the region.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The 2015 GSS will bring together international and regional scholars conducting original research on these issues to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion on knowledge-based development in the Gulf. We particularly encourage scholars who utilize qualitative methods in studying knowledge economies, and we are especially interested in including scholars who work within the Gulf and use their own first-hand participation in the region's knowledge economy to carry out their research.
 
Themes:
The main themes we would like to explore during this symposium include:

  • The nation-state's relationship to education development
  • Gendered realities in education, employment, and research
  • On-the-ground experiences of particular social groups in knowledge-based development
  • Knowledge economies in/and the built environment
  • The impact of Western expertise and ideologies on higher education
  • The branch campus experience
  • Language and identity in Western higher education
  • Teaching the liberal arts in the Gulf

Papers on topics not listed above will also be considered provided they contribute to the overall objectives of the symposium. Pre-arranged panels consisting of three to five papers may be proposed, but papers will be considered individually.
 
Roundtable Discussions:
All conference participants may take part in the following roundtable discussions:

  • American Higher Education in the Gulf, focusing on the first-hand experiences of scholars and students who teach and study in the region's branch campuses or American-styled universities. Topics of discussion include pedagogy, student engagement, academic freedom, campus life, and the role of liberal arts.
     
  • The State of Scholarly Research in the Gulf, focusing on the everyday experienes of researchers currently working within the region. Topics of discussion include access to funding, the state of resources like libraries, archives, and labs, censorship, and the competition between international consultants and local talent (citizens and expatriates alike).
If you are interested in being a discussion lead on one of these topics, please submit an abstract as per the instructions below indicating your own expertise in and/or research on the topic.
 
INSTRUCTIONS AND DEADLINES:
Submissions should be sent by E-mail to Farah Al-Nakib (falnakib@auk.edu.kw) and Micheline Zouein (mzouein@auk.edu.kw) by 15 October 2014. Please include your name, professional title, and institutional affiliation in the body, and attach your paper title and 400-word abstract as a Word document. Abstracts should relate to the general symposium theme and give some indication of sources, discipline, and methodology. Papers are reviewed blindly by a selection committee.
 
15 October 2014: Deadline for submissions
1 November 2014: Notification of accepted submissions
10 November 2014: Confirmation of participation
1 March 2015: Submission of full paper for circulation
12 March 2015: Arrival in Kuwait
13-15 March 2015: Symposium
16 March 2015: Departure from Kuwait
 
The CGS will cover the cost of airfare to and accommodation in Kuwait.
 
Special thanks to Dr. Neha Vora (Assistant Professor of Anthtropology, Lafayette College) for her valuable contribution to the 2015 GSS theme.

  
 
 

   

Arab Gulf states increasingly utilize the phrase "knowledge economy" in their development strategies. Policy reports and national strategic plans emphasize the need to move away from natural resource dependency towards "knowledge-based" development, where knowledge, skills, and innovation supposedly drive economic success and competitive advantage. To this end, significant investment in higher education has become a principal strategy across the GCC states. However, what exactly constitutes "knowledge economy" is not always clear, and there is limited research about the on-the-ground negotiations, experiences, challenges, successes, and failures that go into this form of development. For example, while numerous branch campuses of prestigious Western universities and/or local universities built on Western (mainly American) higher education models have been established over the past decade, they are not uniform in their effects, nor do we know much about the diverse experiences faculty, students, and staff have at these institutions. Building a knowledge economy has also become a major component of urban development, with the construction of enormous university campuses and other educational and research spaces. How these new forms of built environment impact urban life is also understudied.

While the higher education sector has been promoted as the keystone of Gulf knowledge economies, fewer resources have been invested in improving the state of national school systems at the primary and secondary levels, in preparing Gulf nationals to attend Western-style colleges and universities, or in promoting local research capacity to replace the overreliance on international consultants in fields like urban planning, environmental protection, and healthcare, among others. Furthermore, although previously sidelined groups like youth and women have become the focus of many knowledge economy goals, others like Bedouin, Shi'a, the bidūn (stateless), and particularly non-nationals remain marginalized in national development across the region.

The 2015 GSS brings together international and regional scholars conducting original research on these issues to engage in an interdisciplinary discussion on knowledge-based development in the Gulf. Many participants are scholars who work within the Gulf and use their own first-hand participation in the region's knowledge economy to carry out their research.

The Gulf Studies Symposium is open to the public, though you must register in advance to attend as seating is limited. To register, please click the Registration tab at the top of this page.

The GSS will take place in the AUK Auditorium (Liberal Arts Building).
 

 DAY 1: FRIDAY, MARCH 13
 
12:30-1pm: Opening Remarks: Farah Al-Nakib (AUK)
 
1-2:45pm: Historical Perspectives on Knowledge
 
  This panel provides an important historical perspective on Gulf knowledge economies through an analysis of themes such as indigenous vs. Western-inspired education, colonial knowledge and state building, and trans-regional and global "providers" of knowledge, revealing that many issues concerning contemporary knowledge economies are not new to the region.
 
Chair: Souad Ali (AUK) / Discussant: Raymond Farrin (AUK)
  • Nelida Fuccaro (School of Oriental and African Studies), "Understanding Knowledge in Gulf History"
  • Talal Al-Rashoud (School of Oriental and African Studies), "Arab Nationalism and the Modernization of Education in Kuwait, 1936-1961"
  • Louis Allday (School of Oriental and African Studies), "The British Council, Cultural Propaganda, and the 'Problem' of Education in Bahrain and Kuwait, 1936-1945"
 
2:45-3:15pm: Coffee break
 
3:15-5pm: Knowledge Transfer in the Era of Oil Urbanization
 
  Through the lens of architecture and urban development during the critical early decades of oil, this panel analyzes the multiple dimensions and directions of knowledge transfer in the Gulf: the importing of Western designs, the production of local expertise, and the re-export of locally-gained knowledge.
 
Chair: Aly Mansour (AUK) / Discussant: Farah Al-Nakib (AUK)
  • Roberto Fabbri (Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya), "Prototype Spaces for Education: The Architecture of Alfred Roth, Kuwait 1965-80"
  • Amin Alsaden (Harvard University), "Localizing Modernism: Knowledge, Development, and Crisis in Baghdad"
  • Łukasz Stanek (University of Manchester), "From Socialist Europe to the Gulf, and Back: Architectural Knowledge Transfer in Kuwait during the Late Cold War"
 

 
 DAY 2: SATURDAY, MARCH 14
 
9-11am: Challenges and Paradoxes of the Knowledge Economy
 
  This panel addresses several contradictions and tensions that exist in knowledge-based development in the Gulf, with particular emphasis on how educational reforms—both imported and indigenous—bolster the goals of the economic and political elite while eliding or exacerbating existing social struggles and hierarchies.
 
Chair: Benjamin Crace (AUK) / Discussant: Gholamreza Vatandoust (AUK)
  • Rehenuma Asmi (Allegheny College), "'Successful Failure': The Problem with Policy Borrowing in RAND's 'Education for a New Era' in Qatar"
  • Gwenn Okruhlik (National University of Singapore), "The Normative Basis of Knowledge Development in the Gulf: Missing Linkages"
  • Md. Muddassir Quamar (Jawaharlal Nehru University), "Educational Reforms and Knowledge Economy: Challenges and Prospects for Saudi Arabia"
  • Neha Vora (Lafayette College), "Qatari Women and the American Branch Campus: Negotiating Competing Femininities within Trans/nationalism"
 
11-1:15am: Coffee break
 
11:15-1pm: Experts, Actors, and Gatekeepers
 
  This panel critically unpacks the diverse and sometimes unexpected roles played by various actors involved in knowledge production in and on the Gulf since the early days of oil, in ways that engage broader political questions related to state building, labor migration, and neoliberal development.
 
Chair: Kathleen Downs (AUK) / Discussant: George Bauer (AUK)
  • Arbella Bet-Shlimon (University of Washington), "Adult Educational Initiatives, Development Policy, and Consolidating Power in Monarchy-Era Iraq"
  • Nathalie Koch (Syracuse University), "Missionaries of Liberalism? The Ideals and Affinities of Foreign Faculty at Gulf Arab Institutes of Higher Education"
  • Andrew M. Gardner (University of Puget Sound), "Gatekeepers, Imagineers, and the Development of Qatar's Knowledge-Based Economy"
 
1-2pm: Lunch
 
2-3:45pm: Between Knowledge and Practice
 
  This panel uncovers the tensions that emerge when knowledge is put into practice for development purposes in the Gulf, particularly when knowledge processes developed in the West (and deployed by Western institutions in the region) are at odds with local norms and practices.
 
Chair: Ali Aljamal (AUK) / Discussant: James Lambert (AUK)
  • David Mednicoff (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), "Legal Education in Qatar and the Gulf: What does Legal Knowledge Mean for Gulf Development?"
  • Tanya Kane (Northwestern University, Qatar), "Making Medics in the Middle East"
  • Katherine Hennessey (University of Warwick), "Knowledge is the Wing Wherewith We Fly to Heaven: Shakespeare and the Gulf's New 'Knowledge Economy'"
 
3:45-4pm: Coffee break
 
4-5:45pm: Women in the Knowledge Economy
 
  Using diverse methodological approaches to critically examine the emphasis in knowledge economy discourse on gender equality and empowerment, this panel sheds light on women's experiences in education and employment in the Gulf, focusing in the contradictions, challenges, and opportunities they face, and how they think about these issues.
 
Chair: Margaret McKenzie (Tufts University/AUK) / Discussant: Emanuela Buscemi (University of Aberdeen / AUK)
  • Vânia Carvalho Pinto (University of Brasília), "Being a Female and an Intellectual in the UAE: Advantages, Challenges, and Gendered Discourses"
  • Shea Garrison (Tulane University), "Female Labor Force Participation in Kuwait: Society, Agency and the Development of a Knowledge-Based Economy"
  • Christina Paschyn (Northwestern University, Qatar) and Sadia Mir (Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar), "Qatari Women: Empowerment and Engagement via Majalis Al-Hareem"
 

 
 DAY 3: SUNDAY, MARCH 15
 
9-10:45am: Students as Potential Agents of National Development
 
  This panel questions the impact of the region's economically-motivated knowledge development on the most significant, but arguably least measured, target beneficiaries—high school and university students—and assesses their ability to be agents in the development process through analyses of citizenship, inter- and cross-cultural communication, and political awareness.
 
Chair: Rosalind Buckton (AUK) / Discussant: William Anderson (AUK)
  • Rania Al-Nakib (Gulf University for Science and Technology), "Knowledge-Based Development in Kuwait: Schools as 'Real Utopias'"
  • Fahad Al-Sumait (Gulf University for Science and Technology) and Marta Tryzna (Gulf University for Science and Technology), "Assessing the Impact of Western-Style Higher Education on GCC Students' Intercultural Effectiveness"
  • Mark Thompson (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals), "Teaching Political-Science in Saudi Arabia: The Perspective of Saudi Male Undergraduates at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals"
 
10:45-11am: Coffee Break
 
11am-1pm: Roundtable: Teaching the Liberal Arts in the Gulf
 
  Drawing on personal experiences of teaching liberal arts courses and programs at universities throughout the region, this roundtable offers critical perspectives on the challenges and potentials of implementing a Western liberal arts model in the Gulf, addressing questions such as cultural compatibility, the possibility for new approaches to learning, and the role of the instructor.
 
Moderator: Amal Al-Binali (AUK)
  • Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar (Northwestern University, Qatar), "Challenges in Exporting American Pedagogy: 'We Didn't Think about the Liberal Arts Classes'"
  • Michael Telafici (Texas A&M University, Qatar), "Never the Twain Shall Meet: Liberal Arts Courses and Local Culture at an IBC in Qatar"
  • Christopher Ohan (Texas Wesleyan University), "Hybridization of the Liberal Arts Educational Model in the Gulf"
  • Angelica DeAngelis (American University of Kuwait), "Imagining Post Universal Education in the Gulf Region"
 
1-2pm: Lunch
 
2-3:30pm: Panel Discussion: Student Perspectives on Gulf Knowledge Economies: Expectations vs. Realities
 
 

This moderated panel discussion gives students and recent graduates from Gulf universities (both public and private) the opportunity to discuss and share their thoughts, expectations, and firsthand experiences of the region's knowledge-based development, to shift the discussion from abstract goals and concepts to concrete realities.

Moderator: Neha Vora (Lafayette College)

  • Shaza Al-Wattar (American University of Kuwait)
  • Naji Al-Hadban (Kuwait University)
  • Mohammed Shaheem (Qatar University
  • Haya Al-Romaihi (Georgetown University, Qatar)
  • Mohit Mandal (New York University, Abu Dhabi)
3:30-3:45pm: Coffee break
 
3:45-5pm: Roundtable: The State of Scholarly Research in/on the Gulf  
 
  Tackling challenges that all non-scientific researchers who work in and on the region face, this roundtable critiques the over-emphasis on the hard sciences in "knowledge economy" programs in the Gulf and the comparative paucity of support and funding for the arts, humanities, and social sciences, and assesses the impact of this imbalance on the region's overall development.
 
Moderator: Amani Al-Bedah (Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences)
  • Elizabeth Lance (Northwestern University, Qatar), "A Round Peg in a Square Hole: Funding for Social Sciences in a Natural Sciences World"
  • Conerly Casey (Rochester Institute of Technology), "Accumulating Knowledge in the Gulf: Perspectives on Communicating and Archiving Across Disciplines"
 
5-5:45pm: Special presentation by Deema Al-Ghunaim, Sarah Al-Fraih, and Sarah Al-Zouman (Madeenah), "Local Knowledge: An Empirical Approach to Practice"
 
5:45-6pm: Closing Remarks: Farah Al-Nakib (AUK)
 

   

Available March 2015

 


 

 

   


Click on the below link to Register
 
REGISTRATION FORM

 


 

 

   



  
 

  
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