Posted on January 24, 2013

The year 2013 marks the beginning of a new partnership between Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) and Harvard University’s Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) that will facilitate a knowledge exchange for both universities in the years to come. After offering it for three years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the IGLP Workshop reached beyond the United States to Doha, Qatar, for a second home. The workshop, which took place at Education City from Jan. 4-14, 2013, attracted 140 scholars, faculty, and young policy professionals to the heart of the Gulf state.

Designed and created by Harvard’s Law School in 2008, this year’s Workshop stayed true to its origins. The curriculum and agenda were chosen by Harvard and adapted to fit within Qatar’s legal and cultural setting. In addition, scholars and faculty who applied to participate were reviewed by the world renowned university and invited based on academic merit.

The Workshop’s design brings together people from a multitude of backgrounds and careers and facilitates research and writing on issues of global law, economic policy, and social justice. Bringing the Workshop to Qatar expanded and deepened the potential for research in the context of the Middle East and the Arab Spring.

“I have never seen so many people of so many different backgrounds gathered in one place,” said Hessa Al-Muhannadi, a young policy professional. “Because of this diversity, we have been able to learn about different parts of the world.”

With participants that hailed from Qatar, the Middle Eastern region, Asia, Australia, and as far away as the United States, the IGLP workshop had something of value to offer to everyone. As Suha Jubran Ballan, a PhD student, explained, “at this workshop, you get to have conversations you can’t have anywhere else.”

While some of the participants were taking part for the very first time, there were a few present that had been attending the conference since its inception. These participants were attracted to attend this year’s workshop because of its unique location, and the region’s influence on the sessions. As Boris Mamlyuk of the University of Memphis, a returning participant, explained it, “we don’t operate in a vacuum. Being in Qatar forces us to look at our research, and to examine to what extent it is relevant to the events of the Arab Spring.”

The IGLP workshop attendees also applauded Harvard’s decision to include a new category, the “young policy professional,” in this year’s workshop. Participants within this category are professionals that apply laws and policies in their every day jobs; many felt that this provided a fresh perspective to the workshop. As Boris Mamlyuk said “having policy professionals at the workshop forced the academics to face the challenges of their work.”

In addition to sparking conversations and new friendships, the workshop offered attendees a unique chance to collaborate and share ideas about their work and research. For example, Jorge L. Esquirol, a Professor of Law at Florida International University, was able to connect with a professor at Qatar University and they are now planning a joint lecture on comparative law via web conferencing. This story of collaboration proves that borders and distance no longer matter in today’s knowledge economy.

The 2013 IGLP Workshop gave attendees a taste of what’s to come in the next few years. Participants were engaged by the intellectual discussion, happy to attend as many sessions as possible and expressed an interest in participating in future IGLP workshops held in Doha.

“This was a great learning experience,” said Ahmad Al-Mana, a PhD student at l’Université Paris-Sorbonne. “In the coming workshops, I hope to see more sessions approached from a greater Arab or Islamic perspective.”

Harvard Law School’s IGLP is a collaborative faculty effort to nurture innovative approaches to global policy in order to address the world’s most urgent challenges. By partnering with HBKU, IGLP will help support the development of Qatar’s budding scholars and professionals in the law and policy field.

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