CAMBRIDGE, MA – Ishac Diwan, a distinguished economist and Middle East public policy expert, has joined the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) community this semester as Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar with the Middle East Initiative at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Ishac Diwan is Chaire d'Excellence Monde Arabe at Paris Sciences et Lettres, and research fellow at the Economic Research Forum for the Arab Countries, Iran, and Turkey, where he directs research on the political economy of the Middle East. Diwan taught public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and served as Director for Africa and the Middle East at the Growth Lab of the Center for International Development from 2011-2014. Prior to that, he worked for the World Bank in various capacities from 1987-2011, serving in the research, Middle East, and Africa departments. He was for nearly ten years the Country Director for seven countries across East and West Africa. Diwan received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1985.

While in residence at HKS, Diwan will co-direct a research project with MEI Affiliate Professor Melani Cammett entitled “Citizens and Security Threats in the Middle East: Perceptions and Consequences”. This project aims to study the consequences of security threats in the Middle East, which they hypothesize affect individual socio-political preferences in important ways, with large implications for future socio-economic and political development. In addition, Diwan will present various portions of his ongoing research on governance, institutions, and political economy of the Middle East in several public seminars throughout the semester. Diwan will also engage with students, faculty, and affiliates, and participate in various events and activities on campus.

“We are pleased that Professor Diwan will rejoin the Kennedy School this spring as the Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar,” said Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, and Faculty Chair of the Middle East Initiative. “Professor Diwan is a preeminent scholar of the Middle East. His expertise in the political economy of the Middle East and extensive knowledge of political institutions, globalization, and development through his work in academia and with the Word Bank make him an exceptional asset to our communities of students and researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School.”

The Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar Program is one of five components of the Kuwait Program at Harvard Kennedy School and is supported by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. The Visiting Scholar program attracts regional experts who lead study groups, conduct research projects, and engage with other scholars and practitioners at HKS. Their presence helps enrich on-campus program offerings regarding the Middle East and supports the broader mission of the Middle East Initiative.

The Middle East Initiative is dedicated to advancing public policy in the Middle East by convening the world’s foremost academic and policy experts, developing the next generation of leaders, and promoting community engagement on campus and in the region.


Sharon Wilke
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