Prof. Shai Feldman (POL), the director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, and member of the Board of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University Prof. Nicholas Burns are co-chairing a new series of talks concerning issues in the Middle East region titled the Crown-Belfer Middle East Seminar series.
These talks involve expert scholars from Brandeis University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, Boston University and Boston College.
The talks thus far have featured speakers such as Ahmet Davun?lu, the foreign minister of Turkey, who spoke Sept. 29 at the series' inauguration, and Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Israeli opposition party, who spoke on Oct. 5, both at the Harvard Faculty Club, according to both BrandeisNOW and the Belfer Center's website.
In an interview with the Justice, Feldman explained that future speakers include Marwan Muasher, the former foreign minister of Jordan and current vice president of studies at the Carnegie Endowment; Dr. Khalil Shikaki, director at the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research; and Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal, a former ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ireland and the U.S.
Feldman said that these speakers are to come in November, but the official schedule has not been set.
Because of the high-profile status of the individuals featured in the talks, Feldman said that the seminars are not open or publicized to the students or the general public.
"[The seminar] is really geared specifically for the expert community," explained Feldman. The meetings are small, no more than 30 people, and consist mostly of scholars with expertise in Middle Eastern issues and some Ph.D. students.
Burns, who has served as a key American diplomat and is now a professor of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, has been involved with implementing the seminars along with Feldman and Graham Allison, the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Burns could not be reached for comment by press time.
"We tried to create kind of a marriage between the Crown Center and the Kennedy Center," said Feldman in an interview with the Justice.
Feldman says a working union exists between Brandeis and Harvard because of Brandeis' expertise and Harvard's location and prestige.
Feldman explained that the goal of the seminar series is to create a long-term forum and "permanent meeting place" where experts on the Middle East in the Boston area can join and provide information to each other.
The small number of attendees is designed to promote a "high degree of interaction." Topics include the Arab-Israeli conflict, the nation of Iran, the future of Turkish policies, reform, economical development and any other issues that concern the Middle Eastern region.