The Kennedy School Engages in Institution Building Through the Dubai Initiative

October 18, 2006
Liz Tempesta

Many of the ideas and concepts that have defined the Kennedy School of Government over the past 25 years are being utilized by the School’s Dubai Initiative to help build a new institution of research and scholarship at the Dubai School of Government (DSG).
Operating within the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Dubai Initiative is unlike other programs at the Kennedy School, which are largely research endeavors. According to Executive Director Juhi Ginger Dagli, she and others at the Initiative are “engaged in institution building by helping to set up a school of government.” Kennedy School dean, David Ellwood, described the relationship as “an important effort between our schools and our countries. Both institutions and nations will benefit from the collaboration of intellectual thought and regional perspective that this effort will allow.”
Although located in Dubai, DSG’s efforts target the entire Middle East region. It attracts scholars and researchers, as well as government and non-government leaders, and offers training in the areas of public policy and management.
Still in the early stages of the project, the Dubai Initiative is currently focusing on developing scholarship for DSG: appointing fellows at the Kennedy School who are Middle East experts, while also recruiting fellows in Dubai who can become part of its core faculty or research team. In addition, the Initiative funds a call for papers and research grants to generate more scholarship for the school. Administrators also run a seminar series twice a year and work with the Dubai government to facilitate Kennedy School PAEs.
The relationship between the Dubai School and the Kennedy School is about “building a bridge of exchange between students, scholars and researchers,” said Dagli. Once they have established scholarship by developing a fellowship program and organizing seminars and executive education programs, they plan to begin translating literature to develop a library and eventually build a curriculum so that they can award master’s degrees.
Tarik Yousef, an economics professor at Georgetown University and senior fellow with the Belfer Center, was recently appointed dean of DSG. Yousef is spending the next two years in Dubai building a campus and establishing the school as an independent, self-sustained institution.
Over the next several months, the Kennedy School’s Dubai Initiative will continue to build a base of research and scholarship on public policy and management issues for DSG. This November, the Ash Institute of Democracy and Governance, is holding a forum in partnership with the Dubai School of Government on “Innovations in Governance." Reflecting the challenges and opportunities for change and reform in the Arab world, the Forum will address innovation across four main tracks: institutional and organizational restructuring, public – private partnerships, civic participation and accountability and decentralization.
In December, the DSG will lead the planning of the Arab Strategy Forum, a bi-annual event where world leaders discuss public policy issues related to a specific region. Several Kennedy School representatives will participate in the Forum including the Dubai Initiative’s faculty chair Graham Allison, and co-chair Juliette Kayyem.
For more information visit the Dubai Initiative's web site.

Photos: The Dubai Initiative

Vali Nasr and Tarik Yousef image

(L-R) Vali Nasr, senior fellow with the Dubai Initiative and Tarik Yousef, dean of the Dubai School of Government.

Dubai Initiative participants image

Left to right: John White (faculty co-chair); Yasar Jarrar (research fellow); Ginger Dagli (executive director); Graham Allison (faculty chair); Tarik Yousef (senior fellow); Juliette Kayyem (faculty co-chair); Nabil Ali Al Yousuf (executive president, Arab Strategy Forum).

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