Critical Language Scholarship logo

MES Students Receive Boren and CLS Scholarships

Critical Language Scholarship Program logoThe Elliott School’s Institute for Middle East Studies congratulates the following five students who received either a Boren Fellowship or Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) from the U.S. State Department to study Middle East languages:

Thomas Harris (Boren, Arabic)

Mary Ivancic (Boren, Arabic)

Rosalie Rubio (Boren, Arabic)

Brennan Ryan (Boren, Arabic)

Adam Aviles (CLS, Persian)


Both the Boren Fellowship and Critical Language Scholarship are part of a U.S. government initiative to increase the number of Americans studying and gaining proficiency in foreign languages deemed vital to U.S. national security interests. We at GW are very proud of our exceptional students, and we wish them the best of luck wherever their language studies may take them this summer or coming academic year!

Book: Season of Migration to the North

Arabic Book Club – Summer 2018 Edition

Book: Season of Migration to the NorthDuring the summer, we will be reading Mawsim al-Hijra Ilaa al-Shamaal (Season of Migration to the North) by the late Sudanese author Tayeb Salih. The book club will begin on Saturday, June 2, and run through August. All Middle East Studies alumni and current GW students are eligible to participate.

Meetings are generally held on Saturday mornings at the Elliott School. If you are interested in joining the Arabic Book Club, please contact Mitchell Ford, IMES’s Senior Academic Advisor and Arabic Instructional Assistant, at (202) 994-1545 or

The book club was created to give students and alumni the opportunity to engage with modern Arabic literature by authors from across the Arab World. Mitch hopes that this club will enable participants to learn and discuss the ideas and themes in the books as they would with any regular reading group – while also learning important vocabulary and grammatical constructions.

MESP Alumna Danielle Feinstein

Alumni Profile: Danielle Feinstein, BA ’11

MESP Alumna Danielle FeinsteinWhat have you been up to since graduation?

Right now, I am completing my Master’s in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, during a sabbatical year on the Boren National Security Fellowship in Oman. Before my MA, I was a Program Coordinator at the Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo and a Fulbright Research Fellow with the National Democratic Institute field office in Jordan. At GW, I majored in Middle Eastern Studies and minored in Religion.


What professor or class stands out in your memory of the program?

Three professors really stand out to me in my memories of the Middle Eastern Studies program. The first is Nathan Brown who was my advisor for my Elliott Undergraduate Scholars thesis. I had spent one semester in Cairo doing interviews in the fall of 2010, and when I returned in January 2011, of course everything in Egypt had massively changed. I remember I would come to Professor Brown’s office full of anxiety about how I was going to track all the moving pieces of the revolution and turn them into an academic paper. He was extremely supportive and has been to this day. The second professor I remember is Charles Kiamie* who taught a seminar on the Middle East, which was infused with practical expertise from his years working in the U.S. government. Finally, Jennifer Lambert empowered me to TA for her course International Relations of MENA during my senior year, and she has been empowering me to achieve my aspirations of being a smart, competent authority in the field ever since.

(*Charles Kiamie is also a Middle East Studies alumnus, BA ‘00.)


How do you think alumni can be a resource for current students?

We are only a cold email away. If you are a student and you find someone whose experience interests you, don’t second guess yourself, just reach out!

Alumna Priya Vithani

Alumni Profile: Priya Vithani, MA ’16

Alumna Priya VithaniAfter graduating from the University of Virginia in 2013 with an interdisciplinary major in “Human Rights in the Middle East,” Priya came to GW to research the connections between entrepreneurship and democratic development in the Middle East. She was a recipient of the Aramex fellowship in 2014, where she worked with a social startup in Jordan. She also traveled to Cairo, where she researched the sociopolitical dynamics of entrepreneurs in Egypt for her capstone project. While at GW part-time, Priya worked as a full-time desk officer at the U.S. Department of State, covering the North Africa portfolio as a policy officer for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Priya also briefly served as the U.S. liaison to the UN Universal Periodic Review and Special Procedures processes in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs and on a short rotation as the human rights officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Following graduation from GW, Priya left the Department in 2017 for a fellowship with Kiva Microfinance, which took her to Lebanon, Morocco, and Jordan over an eight-month period. Priya is currently a Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank Group on the Innovation in SMEs project, a first-of-its-kind project in the region that supports entrepreneurs and investment funds in Lebanon. She lives in Beirut, Lebanon.


What advice would you give to new students?

If you’re new, welcome to the program and congratulations! My advice is this: the program, while excellent, isn’t cheap, so you might as well make the absolute most of it. Take advantage of the Elliott School’s and the program’s many scholarships and programs to pay for school and go abroad. In total, I was able to recover about half of my tuition costs through these fellowships. Leverage the fact that you are studying in DC to do an internship or find meaningful work alongside the program, even if it means switching to part-time or taking a lighter load one semester. This will put you miles ahead of other graduate students, give you a source of income, and you’ll be able to add a degree of practicality to your academic work. Being in DC, you are surrounded by hundreds of think tanks, NGOs, and academic events or conferences. Go to as many of these as you can, ask questions, and talk to people there (network genuinely). Don’t be afraid to ask and make the program work for you. If you can’t find something that you feel would make your experience better or help you academically or professionally, talk to the IMES staff and propose ideas. The worst thing you can do is nothing at all. And lastly, don’t underestimate the interconnectivity of the field that is Middle East Studies! The people you meet and study with could just one day end up being your future coworkers or even supervisors. (My former boss at the Department of State is an alumnus of the program, and sometimes I even had to email professors in the program for work-related issues!). The field is a revolving door, and your professional reputation can carry you a long way. I hope it does. Best of luck!

Arguing Islam book with author Dr. Nathan Brown

Faculty Book Spotlight: Arguing Islam After the Revival of Arab Politics

Arguing Islam book with author Dr. Nathan BrownInterview of Dr. Nathan Brown conducted via email by Sumaya Almajdoub, MA ‘17.


Hello Dr. Brown, I’ve enjoyed reading your book, and the first question I wanted to ask you is about the title. Your title mentions the “revival of Arab politics,” what do you mean by “revival”? When did Arab politics “die”?

I do not think that politics ever completely died, but it was often driven underground. When I did research on Egypt in the 1960s, I was struck by how little politics was part of the public record—when I looked at publications like newspapers there was a narrow range of views, and only top officials seemed able to set the terms of what was said. When I first traveled to the Arab world in the early 1980s, politics did not form a large part of public or private discussion. That really changed beginning in the 1990s in all kinds of public and private channels.


In your book you elaborate on the ways in which lively, complex and nuanced discussions continue to happen in the Arab public sphere, can you give us examples of these discussions?

Even with the authoritarian wave of the past few years, it is still the case that there is a lot more politics discussed in social media, older media, and private conversations.  As an example, “personal status law”—the category of law that covers marriage, divorce, and inheritance—is constantly debated by people who are not only well versed in technical religious vocabulary on those issues but also very aware of the practical implications of small changes in the law. The debate is sensitive, since it involves issues that matter to everybody. But it is also sophisticated.


Do these discussions in the public sphere affect outcomes on the ground? Do they shape policies? Why or why not?

I looked at several areas—constitution writing, school curricula, personal status law—to try to see where public debates actually seemed to affect decisions made by public officials. What I found was that a lot of the debates are not really connected to political realities; officials can and do ignore them. There are exceptions—I found, for instance, cases in which public officials decided to reach out to influential religious and women’s rights groups—who eyed each other suspiciously–to make a change to divorce law that had wide support.  But for the most part, debates become more polarized because advocates of contrary views do not have to deal with each other.


What about those who argue that the Arab world is witnessing political apathy due to increased levels of suppression, destabilization and civil strife? How would you respond to them?

I think the level of alienation is growing.  But alienation is not the same as apathy. What I sense is a growing despair about formal politics—parties, organizations, elections—particularly for younger generations. But that alienation from the current order can take many forms—from enthusiastic action in 2011 to withdrawal in 2018—and I think it is very much an open question what form it will take in the coming years.


How has the Arab public sphere changed with the introduction of the internet and social media? Have debates become more polarized? Are these changes only relevant to the Arab public sphere, or is this part of a global phenomenon?

Debates have become more polarized and newer social media may facilitate that process but they are not the driving force.  The way in which regimes have declined (somewhat unevenly) in their ability to control all channels of communication has allowed people to form linkages. That such linkages sometimes lead to silos and echo chambers is not simply a phenomenon in the Arab world.  

One phenomenon that is particularly pronounced in the Arab world—though hardly unique to it—is the decline of various kinds of authority. Religious authority, for instance, has not disappeared but it has become more pluralistic. Many more voices join debates and the range of views heard is becoming much greater. And the separation between the two senses of “authority”—ability to make decisions that govern people and ability to have one’s views treated with deference—is also marked.


Was there a specific event or incident that inspired you to write this book?

No specific event, no. I was interested even before the 2011 uprisings. But I had begun to notice how lively debates were becoming but how few of those debates seemed to be getting attention.


Was this book easier or harder to write compared to your other publications?

It was much broader. That made it easier in the sense that I did not need to know every detail before starting to write. But it also made it harder, since I had to think a lot more about what generalizations could be justified.


Do you have any advice for aspiring scholars who want to write a book? Or is there anything you’d like to add?

Do not write a scholarly book unless there is a specific question that you think needs to be answered and that you can pose and answer in a compelling way.

Professor Christopher Rollston

Faculty Profile: Christopher Rollston on Ancient Prophecy and Forged Antiquities


Professor Christopher RollstonChristopher Rollston is Associate Professor of Northwest Semitic languages and literatures in the Columbian College’s Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.


Your edited volume Enemies and Friends of the State: Ancient Prophecy in Context (Eisenbrauns, 2018) was just released, and it explores the complex relationship between biblical prophets and state authorities. Who was your favorite (or least favorite) character from the prophets and prophetesses examined by the volume’s contributors?

Yes, I am so pleased that this new edited volume of mine has now appeared in print, a volume that focuses on the varied and complex nature of ancient Middle Eastern prophets and prophetesses vis a vis those in positions of power within ancient Near Eastern monarchies (including those in Assyria, Babylon, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt).  The volume consists of twenty-six articles, written by a constellation of premier scholars from around the world (e.g., Yale, American University of Beirut, Princeton, King’s College London, GW).  In terms of the function of prophets in the ancient Near East, as you would imagine, some prophetic figures were simply mouth-pieces for the national government, but the most interesting prophets and prophetesses (from my perspective at least) are those who were ardent critics of governmental policies.

Among all of the ancient Near Eastern prophetic voices, I find a Judean prophetess named Huldah to be the most interesting.  She lived in Jerusalem during the second half of the 7th century B.C., and after a scroll of the Torah was found during renovations in the Temple, the highest officials of the kingdom (who were baffled about its meaning) brought the scroll to Huldah, a prominent woman (2 Kings 22), and she provided an accurate (and damning) interpretation.  By the way, this reminds me to emphasize two very common misconceptions about ancient prophets: (a) many people assume that pretty much all prophets were men.  This is not actually the case: throughout the ancient Near Eastern world, there were male and female prophets; and (b) many people assume that prophecy is an ancient Near Eastern phenomenon that was limited to Israel and Judah.  This is not actually the case either: in reality, prophets are a broadly attested ancient Near Eastern phenomenon, as we have references to prophets and seers in texts written in Akkadian, Egyptian, Aramaic, Ammonite, and Hebrew (among others).


You’ve given a lot of expert testimony in court cases regarding forged antiquities. Although scientific methods (such as carbon dating) are often used in such cases, you use your linguistic expertise to determine whether the carved writing on antiquities is genuine or forged by modern hands. What was the most interesting forgery case for you (from either an academic/practitioner standpoint or a political standpoint)?

For around 150 years in the field of ancient Semitic languages, modern forgers have been producing forged inscriptions and selling them on the antiquities market, under the pretense that they are ancient.  The motivations are primarily (but not exclusively) economic.  For example, some twenty years ago, the Israel Museum paid $550,000 for an inscription (an inscribed ivory pomegranate) that was assumed to date to the 8th or 7th century B.C., and to have come from the First Temple in Jerusalem.  The consensus opinion now is that this is a modern forgery.  A few years ago, therefore, it was pulled from the exhibit at the Israel Museum.

Similarly, a few years ago, a stone inscription referred to as the “Jehoash Inscription” was offered for sale on the antiquities market for around $2 million US dollars.  The story that was circulated with this inscription was that it was found during clandestine excavations near Haram es-Sharif, that is, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Some fifteen years ago, I had a hand in debunking this very rapidly as a modern forgery, using palaeographic methodologies (for example, a constellation of anomalies in the script of this inscription) and also through the debunking of the laboratory tests that were used to tout its antiquity.  (The forgers created a fake patina and even, rather cleverly, salted flecks of gold and carbonized remains in the fake patina).  Ultimately, it did not end up selling.  At the behest of the district attorney of Jerusalem, I later testified as a prosecution witness about this inscription, as well as about a few others.  I remember the day of my testimony very vividly: I got on the stand around 9:15 a.m. in the morning and got off the stand shortly after 10:00 p.m. that night.  I gave my initial testimony in about an hour, and then I was cross-examined for around ten hours. (I was flying home the next day, hence our staying in session late into the evening.)  For me it was a particularly enjoyable day…I have a book on modern forgeries coming out in 2019, and I’ll be recounting that day in some detail.


What is your favorite course to teach?

That’s a tough question, as I immensely enjoy teaching….but here are three of my favorites: “The Bible in the Qur’an” (dealing with the shared scriptural traditions of the three Abrahamic religions), “Law and Diplomacy in the Ancient Near East” (dealing with the world’s earliest legal and diplomatic texts…which are written in Sumerian and Akkadian), and “Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Near East” (a course that basically traces the development of Middle Eastern religion from our earliest ancient textual materials down through to modern times).


What research are you working on currently?

I’m currently finishing a book on the history of forged texts…beginning with a famous Babylonian forgery from the 6th century B.C., down to those that are “hot off the press” in the modern Middle East.  That book is currently at about 250 pages in my manuscript and my contractual deadline for it is ca. 325 pages by July 31, 2018.  The next two months are going to be very busy!


Summer book list graphic - books under a beach umbrella

Elliott School 2018 Summer Reading List

Want to brush up on international politics, history and the like this summer? Ditch the classroom and grab a couple of these books suggested by Elliott School faculty. We promise there won’t be any pop quizzes!

Between the World and Me coverMona Atia recommendsRevolution without Revolutionaries cover

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“Excellent book about growing up Black in America and relevant to current racial discussions.”


Revolution Without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring by Asef Bayât

Excellent book for understanding the complexity of the recent events in the Middle East with rigor and nuance.”

A Good African Story coverJennifer Brinkerhoff recommends

A Good African Story: How a Small Company Built a Global Coffee Brand by Andrew Rugsdira

“We read this on our way to Uganda last month. We were scheduled to meet the author and visit his business. It’s actually a sad story: due to local politics (he ran against a member of the ruling party for leadership of the chamber of commerce), he was slapped with an impossible tax bill and had to sell his business to a competitor.

Still the book is a great read about the challenges of economic development and meeting local people’s needs through cultivating value added production in Africa. It’s a FAR more thoughtful critique of the development industry than Moyo’s book Dead Aid.”


Why Nations Fail cover

Maggie Chen recommends

Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

“A great read for people interested in the role of institutions in growth and development!”


Radical Inclusion coverChris Kojm recommendsThe Reluctant Fundamentalist cover

Radical Inclusion: What the Post 9/11 World Should Have Taught Us About Leadership by Martin Dempsey and Ori Brafman

The former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs writes: “Fear of losing control in our fast-paced, complex, highly scrutinized environment is pushing us toward exclusion–exactly the wrong direction. Leaders should instead develop an instinct for inclusion.’


The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamad

A meditation on fear, exclusion and the immigrant experience.  After 9/11,  a Princeton graduate from Lahore who works on Wall Street is swept into a world of distrust, identity politics, and fundamentalism. 

Homo Deus cover


Harris Mylonas recommends

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari


Where they stand coverHenry Nau recommendsThe right stuff cover

Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians by Robert Merry

“It is an assessment of presidents and the history they have created from an awareness of how partisanship inevitably influences our views.” 


The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

“To celebrate the recent passing of Tom Wolfe.”


Preventative Engagement coverJoanna Spear recommendsCase Histories cover

Preventative Engagement: How America Can Avoid War, Stay Strong and Keep the Peace by Paul Stares

“This is a clear-eyed look at the challenges that America faces and advocates an active strategy to deal with them before they become power-sapping crises.”


Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

“The first of a series featuring British anti-hero private investigator Jackson Brodie. In this book old and new cases of the missing (a child, several cats) come together in a complex, satisfying puzzle.”

When Things Dont Fall Apart coverRobert Weiner recommends

When Things Don’t Fall Apart: Global Financial Governance and Developmental Finance in an Age of Productive Incoherence by Ilene Grabel

“Economics and financial issues are at the core of many current challenges in international affairs, yet receive less attention in both scholarly and popular writing.  This book helps demystify aspects of global financial crises, including the East Asian crisis of the late 1990s, the Great Recession of the 2000s, and the role of the International Monetary Fund.” 


The Hacked World Order cover

Paul Williams recommends

The Hacked World Order by Adam Segal

“Segal provides an excellent overview and analysis of developments in cyberspace and their implications for international politics and US national security policies.” 




Myanmar's Enemy Within coverChristina Fink recommends

Myanmar’s Enemy Within: Buddhist Violence and the Making of a Muslim ‘Other’ by Francis Wade

A nuanced explanation of how the narrative of Muslims as “other” took hold in Myanmar, with vivid descriptions of the impact on people’s lives and relationships.

Site Visit Days: New York City; All students gather for an introduction

Elliott Site Visits — NYC Edition

To get the inside scoop on New York’s vast career options, 16 Elliott students recently spent three days in the Big Apple to visit major employers and hear about the personal career journeys of Elliott alumni. Held in March, the NYC site visits were a first-of-its-kind event, made possible through Dean’s Fund resources and organized by Elliott’s Office of Graduate Student Services. On the go from dawn past dusk, Elliott MA candidates discovered new ways to make use of their global affairs education. Visits included Deloitte, the UN Population Fund, Citi Public Sector Group, New York’s Federal Reserve Bank, and the Council on Foreign Relations. What were the takeaways? Gathered here are reflections from four students with diverse interests and career plans.


Site Visit Days: New York City; Students stand outside employer building
Elliott School graduate students visit a potential employer in New York City
Site Visit Days: New York City; All students gather for an introduction
16 Elliott School graduate students and graduate alumni spent 2 days in New York City visiting 7 different employers

Laura Batista, MA candidate, class of 2018

The trip helped me realize that not all career paths in international affairs are rooted in Washington, DC. The visit to Citi Group meant the most to me. Aside from the relevance of this employer to my current studies, international economic affairs, I also enjoyed listening to career advice from an Elliott alumna with Citi. Her story was inspiring, especially because most people whom I have met in the finance sector have been men with finance degrees. As a young woman venturing into the financial services sector, I felt a degree of respect and admiration and aspire to have a career as fulfilling as hers.

Alexander Bierman, MA candidate, class of 2019

I am in the Security Policy Studies program, concentrating on Asian regional security and cybersecurity. While I do not have a specific dream job in mind, I would like to leverage my knowledge of East Asia and the Chinese language. The NYC site visit trip introduced me to a wide range of career opportunities and affirmed my desire to move to the city one day. Hearing stories of how Elliott alumni’s paths led them to where they are in their careers today was fascinating. Most interesting to me was the visit to the Council on Foreign Relations. The building’s interior is beautiful and reminiscent of an early 20th-century mansion. We talked with the main editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, which I have been reading since high school. Learning about job opportunities at the Council made me certain I will apply for a position there after I graduate.

Grayson Shor, MA candidate, class of 2018

The NYC trip made me realize two things. First, the value of a degree from the Elliott School. This is something each employer we met highlighted multiple times. Second, how lucky I am to be an Elliott student – to be surrounded by federal agencies and organizations of all types from every corner of the globe. While New York is very diverse and exciting city, I realized there is likely no better place in the United States for me, someone who is passionate about international development and public service, to study and intern than DC. In short, learning about opportunities available to me in NYC, left me with a new appreciation for what I have access to in DC.

Trevor Tackett, MA candidate, class of 2018

One thing that stands out in my mind about the trip overall is the quality of connections I made with fellow classmates representing a diversity of Elliott academic programs. I’m thankful for these new friendships and look forward to seeing where their careers take them. Most meaningful to me was our visit to Citi Group. Citi was extremely prepared to present the company in a way that spoke to where I currently find myself – looking for different ways my skillset can impact the global community. One quote I remember from our time at Citi: “We can teach you how to be a banker, but we can’t teach you how to have a globalist mentality.” This told me that if I’m willing to continue working hard and learning, my Elliott School training will open doors to career fields I never previously considered.


New York City view

Jenna Ben Yehuda from IWD speaking on a panel

Elliott Alumna Fights for #MeTooNatSec Progress

Jenna Ben Yehuda from IWD speaking on a panel
Jenna Ben Yehuda speaks on an International Womens Day panel

It’s been four months since an open letter to the national security community known as #MeTooNatSec, authored by Elliott School alumna Jenna Ben-Yehuda (BA ‘02) and signed by more than 223 women who work in national security, was published. The letter calls on the national security community to take a comprehensive set of actions to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. The letter lays out specific recommendations, drawing a path for constructive engagement:

“This is not just a problem in Hollywood, Silicon Valley, newsrooms or Congress. It is everywhere. These abuses are born of imbalances of power and environments that permit such practices while silencing and shaming their survivors. Indeed, in our field, women comprise a small fraction of the senior leadership roles — 30% or fewer in most federal agencies.

In honor of the International Day of Women, Ben-Yehuda spoke at an Elliott School career panel focused on sexual harassment in the workplace. She described the way a culture of abuse can begin in an environment in which people are spoken over and excluded — sometimes unintentionally —  from meetings and the decision-making process. Ben-Yehuda emphasized the importance of having more women in top leadership roles and cited research studies showing that sound policies arise in inclusive environments.

In a recent Foreign Policy feature, Will State Miss its #MeToo Moment?, the article questions whether significant change can come, despite former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s implementation of mandatory sexual harassment training, in a “culture in which patriotism and pursuit of the diplomatic mission meant ignoring or downplaying complaints of harassment.”

Asked if the #MeTooNatSec letter would be submitted to the new Secretary of State, Ben-Yehuda responded: “We will continue to work all angles to pursue reform. It is important to ensure there’s continuity on the reform process, and it’s our goal to work with all leadership at the Department.”

Asked how she would rate progress on specific measures to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace, Ben-Yehuda responded, “Some of these reforms take more time to take hold and implement than others. The key is continued forward momentum and an ongoing acknowledgement at all levels both that all employees are entitled to a workplace free from harassment and assault. We’re hopeful we’ll see transparency efforts take hold within the coming months. Transparency is critical to understanding the magnitude of the problem and identifying the best ways to address it.”

Add to the conversation on Twitter at #MeTooNatSec, @jenna_dc, @StateDept, #MeTooMilitary, @WomensFPNetwork.

Jennifer Cooke, new director of IAfS

New Director of Elliott School’s Institute for African Studies Named

The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs announced the selection of Jennifer Cooke as the new director to lead the Elliott School’s Institute for African Studies. Cooke is formerly director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she led research and analysis on political, economic, and security dynamics in Africa. She is a frequent writer and lecturer on U.S.-Africa policy and provides briefings, testimony, and policy recommendations to U.S. policymakers, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. military.

Jennifer Cooke, new director of IAfS

“Jennifer Cooke’s experience in government, her focus on human rights issues, and her policy expertise in the political and economic developments in Africa make her the ideal person to lead the Institute for African Studies,” said Reuben Brigety, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs. “I am confident that she will build the institute into a top-tier resource for academic research and public policy discourse on Africa.”

Cooke is a frequent commentator in print, on radio, and on television, and she has testified before Congress on Boko Haram in Nigeria, the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and the African Union. She travels widely in Africa and has been an election observer in Sierra Leone, Mali, Nigeria, and Ghana. Growing up, she lived in Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic, as well as Belgium, Italy, and Canada.  She holds an M.A. in African studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. in government, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.

Acting interim director, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, will remain on with the institute as its Associate Director and continue work on her research on political transitions and women’s’ leadership in Africa, especially in post-conflict countries.

The Institute for African Studies is also pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Yolande Bouka as the new Visiting Assistant Professor of African Studies for the upcoming 2018 – 2019 academic year.

Launched in 2016, the Institute for African Studies has rapidly become a university-wide hub for GW students and faculty with shared interests in the world’s second largest continent. Because of Africa’s diverse geo-political landscape – which spans nearly every major global issue, writ large – the institute also attracts faculty and students focused on particular global themes, such as sustainable development, conflict and security, and governance. Even more broadly, the institute draws high-level diplomats and policymakers from around the world, who gather at the Elliott School to share perspectives. Host to some 50 events in the past year alone, the institute fills a longtime gap in the Washington, D.C., area.

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