More than 40 university presidents and senior administrators from across the Arab world gathered in the Jordanian capital of Amman recently to share experiences and discuss how to better integrate concepts of civic engagement and citizenship within Arab universities.
The event - “The Role of Civic Engagement in Higher Education” - was convened by Silatech in partnership with Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP). It focused on the role of civic engagement in advancing student educational success and university priorities, as well as strategies for embedding civic engagement within university curricula and building sustainable and effective engagement initiatives.
University leaders also discussed capacity building for the Ma’an Arab University Alliance for Civic Engagement. Founded in 2008 by the American University in Cairo in partnership with the global Talloires Network and ICP, the Ma’an Alliance brings together Arab universities with the collective goal of encouraging and integrating civic engagement in higher education.
The Alliance currently includes 13 universities and institutions from Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
Prof Sheikha Abdulla al-Misnad speaking at the event.
“When young people are actively engaged, motivated and empowered to participate directly in building their societies, everyone benefits. By working to mainstream civic engagement on university campuses, we are helping lay the foundation for a generation of positive change-makers,” said Dina Sherif, Silatech senior adviser for civic engagement.
The Amman consultation is the latest in a series of civic engagement-related activities undertaken by Silatech. In late 2013, Silatech conducted a series of discussions and focus groups with youth, representatives from youth-focused organisations, as well as entrepreneurs and business executives, to discuss ideas related to the development of “Lead with Purpose”, an innovative regional programme that aims to develop a new generation of socially-conscious and responsible young Arab leaders.
Silatech is also creating an online database of youth-focused NGOs throughout the region and exploring various ways to support social entrepreneurship in the Arab world.
In January, Silatech and ICP launched a Small Grants Fund under the umbrella of the Wajibi Programme, under which universities in Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen may apply for grants to assist in developing and implementing policies and programmes that advance institutional change and enhance civic engagement on their campuses and in their communities.
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