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GUST Global Studies Center Examines the Effects of Student Elections in the Middle East

23 October 2018

In its first event of the semester, Gulf University of Science and Technology’s (GUST) Global Studies Center (GSC) hosted a seminar last Tuesday titled “The Origins of Partisanship in the Middle East: Student Elections at the American University of Beirut”, with Visiting Scholar Daniel Tavana from Princeton University. The seminar explored students’ perceptions of university elections and presented findings from an original survey experiment conducted at the American University of Beirut, before and after the annual student elections.



The discussion, led by Tavana, delved into existing research which concludes that university life in advanced democracies helps to promote citizenship, encourage political participation, and foster greater tolerance. Tavana’s research sheds more light on campuses within the Middle East to examine if university conditions can have the same positive effects in these contexts. The seminar also debated whether student elections encourage the adoption of democratic attitudes, or if they are merely tools that political parties and factions use to manipulate the processes of political socialization.


Daniel L. Tavana, is a PhD candidate at the Department of Politics at Princeton University, and a visiting scholar at the GSC. Tavana holds degrees from Cambridge University, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His research interests focus on elections, political behavior, and public opinion in the Middle East and North Africa.


GSC Chair, Dr. Fahed Al-Sumait, said: “We are honored to have Daniel with us while he conducts his PhD fieldwork in Kuwait. His expertise on electoral politics was evident in tonight's presentation and is also a big part of his ongoing dissertation project. I think that we can all benefit from the kind of work he does.”



The GSC has other exciting talks planned for this year, the next of which explores online activism in the Middle East and will be presented by Dr. Jon Nordenson from the University of Oslo at GUST on November 7 at 5:00 pm. The GSC regularly hosts discussions that stimulate research and contribute positively to the campus experience for students and faculty alike. It is a leading Kuwaiti center on global studies issues and a vehicle for engaging both internal and external communities through events, lectures and by hosting visiting scholars from around the world. Previous GSC held lectures included; “The Rise of Islamic State, the Future of Iraq, and the Risks to the Gulf States”, by leading scholar Professor Toby Dodge, Director of the Kuwait Programme at the London School of Economics, and “Dare to do Mighty Things: Exploring Beyond the Earth” by NASA scientist, Zainab Cox.


Information about upcoming GSC events can be found on gsc.gust.edu.kw.