Posted on March 16, 2015

College students from top schools around the world will be converging on Doha to attend Georgetown University in Qatar’s (GU-Q) fourth annual Middle Eastern Studies Student Association’s (MESSA) Undergraduate Research conference titled “Narrowing the Gap: The Conversation between the Governing and the Governed in the Middle East" which will take place at the Georgetown Auditorium starting at 12:00pm on Tuesday, March 17th, and continuing until the 19th. The opening address and student sessions are open to the public.

The dean of GU-Q, Dr. Gerd Nonneman, will be welcoming participants and launching the conference. Following introductions, HE Dr. Issa Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi (pictured), Minister of Administrative Development, will deliver the keynote address. A panel of GU-Q faculty and students will then discuss and debate current ongoing security issues in the region. The panel will include Dr. Mehran Kamrava, Dr. Abdullah Baabood, Dr. Rory Miller, Dr. Birol Baskan, and senior Georgetown students Maram Al-Dafa and Talal Al Naama.

The MESSA student association, which serves to voice undergraduate on a wide range of topics in international affairs, received more paper submissions for the conference this year than ever before. MESSA communications officer Sara Omar, a GU-Q senior majoring in International Politics, said: “We chose a total of 18 papers to be presented, of which 6 are international, including submissions from Harvard university and the University of Southern California, to name a few. We will also have 2 submissions presented over live video stream from main campus in Washington D.C. and one pre-taped video submission.”

Explaining this year’s theme, Sara said: “We wanted to focus on an issue relevant to the events happening today, but we also wanted it to be broad enough that student submissions could go beyond politics to include economics and culture, for example. So the conversation between ‘the governing and the governed’ isn’t just talking about politics; it can also be about cultural aspects like changing social behavior in regards to attitudes on marriage, where both citizens and governments have a role to play.”

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“I speak on behalf of our entire community when I say how proud I am of our students for the dedication and hard work they've put into this year’s MESSA conference. These young people are producing, as well as encouraging other international students to produce, high-quality analytical work on some of the most complex interdisciplinary questions emerging from the Middle East. This conference is providing an unparalleled education, while also showcasing the academic excellence that is now being achieved in Qatar, and Georgetown is very proud to be a part of it,” said Dean Nonneman.

Participating students can expect new elements this year, such as a planned debate between students at the conference and students from Gaza, to be conducted over Skype. This year, they have also opened the conference to artwork and three students will be presenting their submissions under this year’s theme. A film screening and cultural presentation will be part of the closing ceremony on the final day. This year’s student paper submissions will also be included in The Journal of Georgetown University-Qatar Middle Eastern Studies Student Association, the first academic political science journal that is produced by university students in the Middle East, published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing.

For more information on how to attend the opening ceremony, please visit GU-Q’s MESSA, the conference sponsor, is a uniquely student-focused campus organization, giving young people a chance to emulate their esteemed peers in the research community, through the hard work of writing an academic paper and presenting it at a conference.