Policy, Global Citizens and World Peace. Case studies: Lebanon, Canada and the UAE

Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies Dr. Pamela Chrabieh was invited as a special guest speaker to give a lecture entitled “Policy, Global Citizens and World Peace: How can Governments influence policy to create better Global citizens and work towards World Peace? Case studies: Lebanon, Canada and the United Arab Emirates”.

Dr. Chrabieh introduced first her audience to the concepts of policy, glocal citizen instead of global citizen and the peace process as she defined it based on four interdependent dynamics: peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding and inner peace. She then identified the major core values that drive or should drive Lebanese and Canadian foreign policies such as interreligious dialogue, democracy, human rights and interculturalism. She also tackled the issue of internal policy while focusing on the social-political diversity management systems in Lebanon, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Chrabieh concluded with the UAE Ministry of Tolerance as an important example of how peace can be adopted as the organizing frame for governments’ policies.

“Tolerance is one of the major pillars in preserving and expanding peace. Definitely, citizens and expatriates are called to be agents of peace, peace builders, and to help the government in its task, first internally, and second, in exporting the model outside of the Emirati boundaries. Dubai in particular, where hundreds of ethnicities, religious and cultural identities are learning to coexist and more, to live with one another – just like we are trying to do at the American University in Dubai -, where glocal identities are reshaping their belongings and relationships, promises to offer this model to the region, and to the world.”

The Harvard College in Asia Program (HCAP) is an initiative in which Harvard University partners with higher education institutions in Asia to tackle key issues relevant to today’s world of increasing challenges, while simultaneously expanding the cultural and educational horizons of participating student delegates. This year’s Conference theme organized by the HCAP at the American University in Dubai is “Equality, Tolerance and Freedom: the Effect of Culture and Policy on a Globalized World.”


AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN DUBAI NEWS: http://www.aud.edu/news_events/en/view/1164/current_upcoming/policy-global-citizens-and-world-peace



The Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW) brings together scholars, young graduates and activists in civil society to share research, experiences and insights.

Focusing on Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine, but also with a concern for Syria and Iraq, the Forum was launched in Beirut in December 2014 by DIYAR Consortium, based in Bethlehem, Palestine.

It released a document titled “From the Nile to the Euphrates: The Call of Faith and Citizenship.” The document sets forth 10 critical issues confronting the Middle East today, and expresses a statement of commitment to engage proactively in addressing those challenges.

Because of an unhealthy, and sometimes conflictual, relation between religion and state in the Arab world, the Forum seeks to educate for, and promote, a culture of full citizenship for all among the Arab people, especially youth, in order to create more peaceful, democratic and prosperous societies built on strong pillars, such as: just constitutions and the rule of law, the full dignity and security of every person, a healthy quality of life for all, gender justice, a hopeful future for youth, etc.

This initiative captures a new approach to a vital and active faith that employs critical thinking for participatory and fulfilling citizenship.

For more information, check the CAFCAW’s Facebook Page:



The problematic of turath in contemporary Arab thought: Book discussion panel

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Dr. Nadia Wardeh and Dr. Sandra K. Alexander

The Middle Eastern Studies Division at the School of Arts and Sciences (American University in Dubai) is holding its second MEST Forum of the semester, a panel discussion and book signing for Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at AUD, Dr. Nadia Wardeh’s The Problematic of Turath in Contemporary Arab Thought: A Study of Adonis and Hasan Hanafi.

Dr. Nadia Wardeh’s book focuses on the question of turath (heritage) as tackled by contemporary Arab thinkers since 1967, in particular the Islamic-modernist scholar Hasan Hanafi and the secular-modernist poet and cultural critic Adonis.Their positions are described in the light of their intellectual and ideological backgrounds, and analyzed in view of their primary texts. The study concludes that their “imagined” visions of turath are remnants of the colonial period and colonialist system of knowledge, and opens the door to the re-thinking of turath on the basis of a post-colonialist/post-orientalist approach.

Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Venue: Student Center building, room C 227 (American University in Dubai)

5:30 – 6:00 p.m.: Reception-Dinner
6:00 – 6:40 p.m.: Panel Discussion featuring Dr. Nadia Wardeh (author),
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh and Dr. Sandra K. Alexander
6:40 – 7:00 p.m.: Q&A session
7:00 – 7:15 p.m.: Students’ Feedback Forms
7:15 – 7:30 p.m.: Book signing with Dr. Nadia Wardeh

Further information: http://www.aud.edu/…/c…/mest-forum-dr-nadia-wardeh-on-turath

Collaborative Learning in a University Classroom

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh shares her methods used in her series of workshops and class activities
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern studies at AUD has a different approach to teaching. She focuses on Collaborative Learning, and explains below, how she applies it in her classes, including Islamic Art and Architecture, Religions of the Middle East and Religions of the World courses.


Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students are invested in their own learning while they work together; diversity is celebrated, all contributions valued (students and teachers) and skills are acquired for resolving conflicts when they arise. This method differs from traditional teaching approaches because students do not compete with each other individually but learn how to factor in each other’s’ ideas, how to relate to their peers as they work together in group settings (interpersonal development), how to enhance their social skills, and how to search for common grounds between worldviews and practices while they learn to respect the differences.

In a world where being a team player and a sociable agent is often a key part of business success, collaborative learning is very useful, and is also perceived as an esteemed means to an end – that Higher Education is not only about delivering-sharing a content; “it’s about cultivating habits of mind that are the underpinnings of deeper scholarship”, “it’s about empowering and enabling students’ resilience – how do you look to your neighbor as a resource, how do you test your own theories, how do you understand if you’re on the right track or the wrong track?” (Monique DeVane).

According to Natalie Nixon, Director of the Strategic Design MBA at Philadelphia University and Principal of Figure 8 Thinking, LLC, there are five reasons why collaboration is important for the growth of one’s business:

  1. Self-awareness: the honestly about your strengths and weaknesses when working with others can force you to ask for help when necessary and be brazen about how you can help others.
  2. Scale: more effective problem solving happens when you combine resources in talent, experience, finances and infrastructure. In other terms, understand that your individuality is a part of a greater whole.
  3. Creative Abrasion: abrasion is a process of wearing down through friction. We typically associate friction with something negative, but friction in its purest form, is energy. So why not convert that energy that comes from working with people who are different from you, into something positive?
  4. Take the long view: sometimes things don’t work out well when you collaborate with others, no matter how hard you try, how patient you are, and how well you listen. But does that necessarily mean you never attempt again to work with that organization? Take the long view about perceived failures… While an initial project may not do well, the partnership may still be salvageable.
  5. Learn, learn and learn some more! Collaborating propels your firm to become a learning organization, a popular phrase right now that refers to organizations which have cultures of ongoing learning, and structures that support that learning through safety nets for failure, and opportunities for growth in all aspects of employees’ lives.
In the Architecture and Islam workshop I designed for the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters (MEST 329 Islamic Art and Architecture), members of a group are required to articulate their competencies, therefore distill what they are great at – and what they do poorly (sketching, researching, analyzing, working with software…) – while gathering, analyzing and presenting a written and visual content on mosques, mausoleums and palaces built during the Umayyad, Abbasid, Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal empires, as well as on contemporary architecture of mosques and futuristic models.

In the Christians in Southwestern Asia workshop for instance (MEST 350 Religions of the Middle East), students combine their individual research projects (phase I) on the current situations of Christians in Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, GCC, etc. and produce a common discourse (phase II) based on interdependency. Following the workshop, they realize that a group, an institution, a society thrive where there are diverse and complimentary identities and systems that enhance each other’s lives and management.

Sometimes students work together according to certain interests, but I usually try to mix them so they would learn to work with different types of people. Class activities’ goals as designed for the WLDC 301 Religions of the World course include in particular students from different religious/non-religious backgrounds working together to identify what could be complimentary about their different worldviews, and the intra-religious and inter-religious differences they are tackling – when studying together for instance the subject of Kashrut in Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism, comparing Kosher with Halal, and drawing on each other’s perceptions and experiences.

Sharing information and dialogue inevitably help students to acknowledge cultural/religious differences and better understand other cultures, religious and points of view, especially when the personal story sharing component is included in the plenary session. Collaborative activities indeed involve the construction of new ideas based on personal and shared foundations of past experiences and understandings – applying here some of the principles of constructivism. When the WLDC 301 students are asked to search individually, then collectively for the definitions of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism as three of the main perspectives/positions in theology of religions, they are also asked to reflect on the content of the definitions by drawing back on their own experiences.

Each time a student collaborates with others, he/she finds himself/herself in a setting that optimizes his/her capacities to extend beyond the comfort zone, grow a variety of intelligences (theory of multiple intelligences by Howard Garner), acquire a deeper understanding of content, increase overall achievement in grades, and in turn, stretch the boundaries of the classroom. According to Garner, we can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students: verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, musical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist and existential.

Most students become usually highly motivated to remain on task, to actively construct content, to take ownership of their own learning and to pursue the search for knowledge, as indicated in their end-of-semester qualitative evaluations of the courses. It goes without saying that encouraging student-student thinking is paired with the development of strategies necessary for the inclusion of critical-level thought. Clear questions are identified at the outset and I make sure to show how these questions relate to students’ interests and abilities, and to the teaching goals and learning outcomes of the courses.

Furthermore, collaborative learning is used in conjunction with other educational methods and techniques, and it certainly helps students construct knowledge rather than only reproduce a series of ‘facts’- regurgitate information. Through problem-solving, inquiry-based, story sharing and experiential activities, students are challenged to actively engage in the learning process. While being guided by the professor, they are provided with tools to formulate and test their ideas, draw conclusions and inferences, pool and convey their knowledge, articulate and defend their ideas, create their own conceptual frameworks and not rely solely on an expert’s or a text’s framework, and link their existing knowledge and real-world experience to the content of the course and class activities’ goals.

As I see it, it’s about intellectual gymnastics in a dialogic setting where positive interdependence is valued and experienced.




AUD Professor Leads Discussion on Religion-State Relations in the Middle East

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh talks democracy, democratic institutions, citizenship and advocacy

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at AUD and a member of the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW) Executive Committee, met her peers during a workshop on Lebanese Youth and Citizenship held in Beirut recently.

Dr. Chrabieh comments, “The gathering of Middle Eastern Christian and Muslim scholars, religious leaders, media figures and politicians, initiates a regional dialogue between academicians from diverse backgrounds and identities, who debate issues related to religions-politics’ relations, interfaith dialogue, Christians’ roles and situations as well as theology of public life, and propose alternative worldviews, narratives and projects facing the culture of violence.

The CAFCAW forum was part of the ongoing academic work of the Executive Committee on the Religion-State relations in the Middle East, and on the roles of diverse stakeholders and activists in diversity management. The workshop gathered more than 25 young Lebanese and included trainings and conferences tackling the subjects of democracy, democratic institutions, citizenship and advocacy.


This meeting and workshop followed 4 previous events held in 2014 and 2015 in Amman, Istanbul, Beirut, and Cyprus. Future initiatives include a Middle-Eastern Youth Conference in Cyprus in April 2016 and the publication of the July 2015 Conference proceedings.

About the Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World (CAFCAW)
CAFCAW is a forum that aims to provide a more public voice for Christians and interreligious dialogue in the Arab world. The association was established at its inaugural meeting in February 2014 in Istanbul under the Diyar Consortium, a Lutheran-based, ecumenically-oriented organization serving the whole Palestinian community, with emphasis on children, youth, and women. CAFCAW convened its second meeting in Istanbul in June 2014. CAFCAW’s third conference held on 5 and 6 December 2014 in Beirut served to create broad support among Christian and Muslim academics, stakeholders in interreligious dialogue, civil society and policy makers.

For more information on CAFCAW please click on the following link http://www.cafcaw.org


– Source: AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN DUBAI NEWS http://www.aud.edu/news_events/en/view/1068/current_upcoming/aud-professor-leads-discussion-on-religion-state-relations-in-the-middle-east#sthash.MsOUvd7o.dpuf

Pourquoi bloguer?

Mon article paru ce matin dans l’Orient-le-Jour, Beyrouth.


Je fais partie de ce qu’on nommerait aujourd’hui les dinosaures du blogging libanais. Lorsque j’utilisais le blog pour la première fois entre 2005 et 2006, nous étions une poignée d’internautes qui essayaient de nouvelles plates-formes telle « Blogspot » de Google. Ces années charnières dans l’histoire contemporaine du Liban furent, d’une part, marquées par des assassinats et les combats de 2006 et, d’autre part, par un accès plus facile à l’Internet avec un taux de pénétration en croissance continue. L’été 2006 vit l’explosion de la blogosphère libanaise et la première « bloguerre » mondiale entre les Libanais et les Israéliens. La guerre, la mémoire de la guerre et la construction de la paix faisaient partie des thèmes de choix de la plupart des blogueurs-ses de l’époque, dont moi-même.
Pourtant, la mise en discours de la guerre n’est pas chose nouvelle. Elle a lieu depuis des décennies. Il n’y a qu’à penser aux perspectives de certaines personnalités religieuses, politiques et intellectuelles, ainsi qu’aux productions artistiques dès les années 90, et aux activités de certains organismes non gouvernementaux, d’associations civiles et de groupes de dialogue islamo-chrétien luttant pour la convivialité. Toutefois, après avoir cru à l’existence d’une période qualifiée de « postguerre », mes collègues et moi-même étions rendu compte dès 2005 de l’ampleur des divisions internes lesquelles perduraient, de la guerre psychologique qui alimentait continuellement la guerre physique, et de l’effet dévastateur tant de l’hypomnésie que des mémoires conflictuelles en mode « hypermnésique ». Cette fois, il fallait absolument témoigner de ce qui se passait avec sons, images et paroles, élever la voix et la porter plus loin, pour ne pas oublier et pour ne pas devenir les oubliés de l’histoire. Avec l’été 2006, la mise en mémoire devint une entreprise démocratisée (democratized), diversifiée, exponentielle, voire virale (viral). Les espaces publics comme lieux de médiation entre les pouvoirs étatiques et les citoyens s’élargirent, favorisant une participation beaucoup plus active qu’auparavant, des dynamiques alternatives moins hiérarchisées, une meilleure visibilité aux diverses expressions d’individus et de collectivités, et la construction de liens transnationaux. Avec le blog, les contraintes des médias traditionnels de la censure étaient contournées et de nouveaux modes de sociabilité se mettaient en place pour contribuer à redéfinir la configuration du paysage sociopolitique, religieux et économique.
Dix ans plus tard, la plupart des blogueurs-ses libanais(es) publient des articles aux couleurs et senteurs variées, de la mode à la cuisine, en passant par la politique régionale, les arts et les carnets de voyage, et couplent le blog à Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et Cie. En faisant le tour de la blogosphère locale et diasporique actuelle, dont la plate-forme lebaneseblogs.com laquelle rassemble les blogs les plus en vogue, des « fashionistas » et « food bloggers » aux gourous autoproclamés, on se rend compte qu’il y a plusieurs façons de répondre à la question « Pourquoi bloguer en tant que libanais(es) ? » :
pour influencer, vendre, informer, « réseauter », apprendre, se définir, être vu, communiquer, provoquer, juger… Des fonctions certes de toute actualité virtuelle, mais qu’en est-il de celle du ressouvenir ?
Dans un Liban toujours en guerre, le blog devrait, à mon avis, contribuer à en briser le cercle vicieux, notamment en promouvant la construction de mémoires conviviales. Ces mémoires garantiraient la naissance d’une mémoire nationale sur la base de laquelle l’histoire contemporaine locale serait revisitée et transmise aux futures générations, et l’identité libanaise pourrait enfin passer d’une identité largement en conflit vers une identité « dialogale ». Sans mémoire, pas d’histoire, sans histoire, pas d’identité, et sans identité, la paix ne peut advenir. Le devoir de mémoire est donc de prendre acte que l’histoire du Liban des années 70 et 80 est bien la nôtre, que celle d’avant – remontant à des centaines et milliers d’années – est bien la nôtre, que celle de 2006 est la nôtre, que toutes sortes de crises dont celle des déchets et la crise présidentielle sont les nôtres, et que finalement, toutes se rejoignent avec leur lot de discontinuités et paradoxes, dans ce qu’elles ont de lumineux comme (et surtout) dans leurs aspects les plus sombres.
Le devoir de mémoire sur la toile et notamment sur la blogosphère est plus que jamais crucial pour faire face à la montée des extrémismes et pour établir une meilleure gestion de la diversité au Liban. En fait, le devoir de mémoire devrait être le fer de lance du blogging libanais et des médias sociaux, et tel que le définit le philosophe Paul Ricœur, une sorte de mémoire obligée, une injonction à se souvenir qui ne peut se comprendre que par rapport aux événements horribles auxquels il fait référence, et qui n’a de sens que par rapport à la difficulté ressentie par les individus et les communautés blessés du corps politique, à faire mémoire de ces événements de manière apaisée. Ce devoir de mémoire ne devrait toutefois en aucun cas devenir un culte, être inconditionnellement célébré, conduisant à la subordination du présent au passé, ni l’emporter sur la connaissance explicite et sur la raison qui font la citoyenneté libanaise. Dans cette perspective, bloguer serait équivalent à être témoin de l’histoire, éclairant sa marche, intervenant dans les enjeux de mémoire et contribuant à enrichir la mémoire collective, non à se l’accaparer et l’élever en vérité ultime. Bloguer pour compenser le trop-plein de mémoire (ou pacifier les conflits de mémoire) et ses paradoxes, le devoir d’oubli ou l’amnésie volontaire, le déni et le présentisme.




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