Last month, Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) and Silatech facilitated a consultation in Amman, Jordan, titled “The Role of Civic Engagement in Higher Education.” Over 40 university presidents and senior administrators from across the Arab world gathered to discuss strengthening and expanding civic engagement activities at higher education institutions.
“When young people are actively engaged, motivated and empowered to participate directly in building their societies, everyone benefits,” said Silatech Senior Advisor for Civic Engagement Dina Sherif, discussing how, via civic engagement activities, university campuses can have a positive impact on the youth of today and tomorrow.
Susan Stroud, ICP Executive Director, noted that, "This is not a conference or a workshop, but a lively conversation that is a part of a global effort." Andrew Furco (Associate Vice President for Public Engagement at the University of Minnesota) and Tim Sullivan (Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo) co-facilitated the discussion in which Mr. Furco shared his experience and successes conducting civic engagement at his home university and Mr. Sullivan contributed his valuable insight of the region.
These efforts are specifically targeted towards increasing economic and employment opportunities for young people and the communities they live in. Dr. Tarik M. Yousef, CEO of Silatech, moderated a panel discussion on Civic Engagement in Arab Higher Education. Yousef commented on the connection between civic engagement programs and youth employment, noting that the job and life skills that young people gain through these programs can significantly improve their employability as well as their entrepreneurial potential.
The consultation highlighted the Ma’an Arab University Alliance for Civic Engagement, hosted by the American University in Cairo, in partnership with the global Talloires Network and ICP. This alliance includes 13 universities and institutions from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Qatar, Palestine, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait and serves as a platform for the sharing of ideas, knowledge and best practices.
ICP and Silatech have also launched a University Civic Engagement Initiative, Wajibi: My Education, My Community. As one of its components, Wajibi offers an opportunity for universities in Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen to apply for small grants that will fund civic engagement projects. This initiative will provide resources and guidance that will support advancing institutional change and enhancing community engagement on university campuses.