Historic revolutions across the Middle East have focused international attention on the courageous civic engagement and collective leadership of everyday citizens.
Since 2009, RCLA and the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute have collaborated to convene scholars and practitioners from across the region committed to illuminating and nurturing leadership for public well-being. The high-level working sessions and public fora have been an opportunity to discuss leadership that transcends sectors, transforms ordinary citizens into agents of change, and opens up new public spaces for deliberation and engagement.
A primary focus of the discussions has been on the increase in cross-sector social partnerships in the Middle East. These collaborations between government agencies, nonprofits and private companies to address social problems are considered promising and innovative policy interventions, though they come with inherent challenges and risks, such as those associated with the disproportionate size and power of the public sector.
One focus for scholars has been on public wariness of the "sector-blurring" effects of global phenomena such as the push for leaner governments and the rise of corporate social responsibility that can undermine clear lines of responsibility and accountability by different sectors.
Looking forward, RCLA and the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute will continue to explore the implications of interdisciplinary, “boundary-spanning” leadership practices for research, curriculum and leadership development in the swiftly changing region and beyond.
From October 24–26, 2011, a group of scholars and practitioners met for the first in a regional collaborative seminar series at NYU Abu Dhabi, “Deepening research on cross-sector social partnerships (CSSPs).” Organized by RCLA and hosted by the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, the series aims to explore the landscape of scholarly work on CSSPs in the Middle East, advance the scholarly conversation by infusing it with international perspectives and support regional scholars in opening possibilities for further research on CSSPs. CSSPs take the form of collaboration between the government, nonprofit and business in addressing shared social problems.
From February 14-16, 2010, RCLA and the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute convened 24 eminent scholars and practitioners committed to illuminating and nurturing leadership for public well-being in the Middle East and beyond. Whether working for youth and women's empowerment, engendering corporate citizenship, or organizing communities in conflict-ridden areas, they discussed leadership that transcends sectors, transforms ordinary citizens into agents of change, and opens up new public spaces for deliberation and engagement.