The Stevens Program for Middle Eastern Studies

The Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Program for Middle Eastern Studies houses various projects that enable a new generation of dedicated scholars to expand and deepen their knowledge of the Middle East and North Africa. The program’s impact is twofold, as it comprises two separate initiatives.

Stevens Scholars Project

The Stevens Scholars Project supports research and travel by UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students who demonstrate a high level of distinction in Middle Eastern Studies, particularly in the areas of culture, language, politics, and history. Since 2015, it has enabled 11 students to travel to eight different countries in the region. From studying the limited water resources in Jordan to exploring the connections between Islam, feminism, and family law, Stevens scholars have gained invaluable experience. Complete application details are available here. The project is made possibly by The Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens Memorial Fund for Middle Eastern Studies, established by the family and friends of Chris Stevens on September 11, 2013, the one-year anniversary of his death in Libya. 

Current Scholars

Hannah Ellis is a third year undergraduate student at the University of California Berkeley majoring in Political Science and minoring in Arabic. She is very interested in the intersection of religion and human rights especially in regard to women and hopes to work in a related field when she graduates. She is also an intern in … Continued


Sarah Klein is a junior at UC Berkeley majoring in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations, and minoring in Middle Eastern Studies. She serves as Undergraduate Curatorial Assistant for an upcoming exhibition on Moroccan Jewish life at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. As a 2017 Stevens Scholar, Sarah will be … Continued


Sawsan Morrar is a multimedia journalist at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She is a graduate of UC Davis, where she received a BA in International Relations and minored in Communication and Middle East South Asia Studies. She was an associate producer at Capital Public Radio, Sacramento’s NPR affiliate news station. She currently freelances for … Continued


Past Scholars

Ph.D. candidate, Development Economics: “Voter Information and Politician Public Platform,” Turkey.


Sophomore, Political Science: Mideast Wire Tunisia Exchange Program, Tunis, Tunisia.


Senior, Middle Eastern Studies: Intensive Arabic Study, American University of Beirut.


Senior, Middle Eastern Studies: Thesis research on art as subversion in the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah, UAE.


Ph.D. student, Anthropology, “Dissent and Authority in the Modern Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt,” Cairo, Egypt.


Ph.D. candidate, City and Regional Planning: “Decentering Politics: Peripheral Urbanization and the Remaking of Class Relations in Tunisia,” Tunis, Tunisia.


Senior, Middle Eastern Studies: Thesis research on Islamic State, Amman, Jordan and Erbil, Iraq.


Senior, Political Economy: Jordanian foreign fighters in the Islamic State, Amman, Jordan.


Stevens Global Ambassadors Project

The J. Christopher Stevens Global Ambassadors Project is an innovative series of virtual exchanges, providing an opportunity for UC Berkeley students to interact with a diverse group of peers at institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. Funded by the Stevens Initiative—a multilateral public-private partnership housed at the Aspen Institute and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State—the project strives to encourage cross-cultural understanding, giving students a chance to learn in a diverse and engaging environment while equipping them with the tools they need to communicate and cooperate with confidence in the twenty first century. Since it began in 2016, it has provided more than 200 UC Berkeley students opportunities to engage with nearly 230 students across the Middle East and North Africa.

For video narratives from participants in our exchanges, click here.



Gender in Islam Virtual Exchange

In the Fall of 2016, we launched the University of California’s first virtual exchange course. Conducted in tandem with Al Akhawayn University in Morocco, this class offers students the unique opportunity to explore questions of gender in Islam alongside students in Morocco. Learning alongside each other and listening to a range of perspectives, students from different backgrounds have the unique opportunity to make cross-cultural connections while learning about a topic of great importance: the factors informing gender identities in the Muslim world, and the role and legal status of women in Muslim societies as well as in the U.S.



Public Health Virtual Exchange

In the Spring of 2017, we will be launching a project-based virtual exchange course on the public health implications of conflict and forced migration. Developed in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Center for Global Public Health, the course will focus on recent conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (the Iraq War, the Syrian refugee crisis, etc.). In the second half of the course, UC Berkeley students will team up with students directly affected by these conflicts and work together to develop innovative solutions to pressing public health issues.


kurdish signfall-2016-arabic-english-exchange

Arabic/Kurdish Language Exchange

In this innovative exchange, UC Berkeley students studying Arabic and Kurdish are matched with English-language learners at institutions in the Middle East and North Africa for a virtual language exchange. Students meet one-on-one weekly for one hour to practice their spoken language skills. UC Berkeley students have the opportunity to practice colloquial Arabic, while students from institutions in the Middle East and North Africa have the opportunity to practice their spoken English with a native speaker. Currently in the pilot-stage, we are exploring a classroom-based exchange, in which instructors build the weekly virtual language exchange into their courses. Depending on interest, this classroom-based exchange could occur in either the Spring 2017 or Fall 2017 semesters.