The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy announced the selection of Nadim Shehadi as the new director of the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies last month.
Shehadi previously served as the director of Lebanese studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and worked for the European Union writing foreign policy and creating strategies for relations with the Middle East and North Africa. Shehadi will continue to serve as an associate fellow of the Chatham House in London, where he is the director of a program focused on Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.
“[Shehadi] was a very good choice,” Leila Fawaz, the Issam M. Fares professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies and founding director of the Fares Center, said. Fawaz led the Fares Center as founding director from its inauguration in 2001 until 2012.
Fawaz added that a goal of the Fares Center is to “bring together different viewpoints” in order to communicate an understanding of the Middle East to students, notably through studying relationships between the groups involved in Middle Eastern conflicts.
Shehadi will “take Tufts a step higher,” Fawaz said. She hopes that as director of the program Shehadi will continue to develop the Fares Center as a largely student-run, discussion-based organization, that includes the Mediterranean Club.
Student participation and research are important to the Mediterranean Club at the Fares Center, according to Fawaz. She said she believes that open discussion and diversity of opinion are what make the Fares Center successful, and that Shehadi will continue to develop the center according to these values.
Ian Johnstone, academic dean and professor of international law at the Fletcher School, also explained that Shehadi’s experience directing research programs and working as a policymaker and advisor made him a good choice for the role. Shehadi has also served as a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs for various media outlets, including CNN and Al Jazeera.
Johnstone, who was also one of the members of the committee that selected Shehadi as the new director, added that Shehadi has “multi-dimensional talents” and is “very well known for a balanced perspective.”
“[Shehadi] fits the bill in so many ways,” he said.
Johnstone is confident that Shehadi “[will build] on the foundation that Fawaz created,” and “will raise the profile of the Fares Center for cutting-edge policy research.”
With Shehadi’s prior international experience, Johnstone said that there will be “more interaction between the academic and policy world” at the Fares Center, and hopes that Shehadi will help “bridge the gap” between these two spheres in his new role.
Fawaz said that given Shehadi’s vast experience directly addressing issues in the Eastern Mediterranean in his capacity as an academic at Oxford, a policymaker with the European Union, and a commentator in the international media, his tenure at the Fares Center will continue to draw influential figures to speak on campus as part of the center’s Issam M. Fares Lecture series. Past speakers include former British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair; former U.S. Secretaries of State James Baker, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton; and former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Johnstone said he feels that Shehadi will also help the Fares Center learn “how to overcome policy paralysis.”
“Fletcher prides itself on multidisciplinary research, and the Fares Center is a microcosm for that,” Johnstone said.
In an email, Dean of the Fletcher School James Stavridis expressed his excitement regarding Shehadi’s appointment.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nadim Shehadi as the new director of the Fares Center,” he said in an email to the Daily. “Nadim brings a wealth of scholarly and policy experience to the position, and we are hoping to continue to provide cutting edge analysis of key events in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“Given the challenges in Syria and western Iraq, as well as the complicated relationships among Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Egypt and other nations in this turbulent area, Director Shehadi will have a rich tapestry upon which to practice,” Stavridis added.