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Over the past decade, the Arab region has seen an upsurge in active citizenship and participation, especially among university students where there is a long history of civic engagement and social responsibility. Entering its tenth year, the Ma’an Arab University Alliance for Civic Engagement, a regional affiliate of the Talloires Network, has been a vital platform for connecting university leaders, faculty, and students around promoting common visions of civic responsibility in Arab universities. These fifteen universities representing nine Arab countries, with their secretariat hosted at The American University in Cairo (AUC), have committed to graduating civically engaged students who work with and for their local communities.

In Ma’an’s most recent newsletter, they highlighted the work of Ahfad University for Women, where civic engagement has become an essential part of the student experience. Students’ coursework and research involve coordination with local communities, private sector businesses, and government organizations, establishing vital connections for their students.

In November of 2016, Ma’an launched a national competition for 40 universities in Egypt focused on students presenting their solutions to social issues in women’s empowerment, education, entrepreneurship, or human rights. The five winning teams, represented by 21 students, were awarded at grant of $1,500 to implement their proposals. Those winners were also invited to training to provide them with assistance and basic skills for managing their future businesses.

Later this year, Ma’an will issue a report evaluating their work and impact on civic engagement, focusing on further improvements for Egypt, Lebanon, and Sudan. The continued work and success of the Ma’an Alliance demonstrates the power of regional networks to enhance national and regional civic engagement. To learn more about the work of Ma’an, read their latest bulletin.

You can also learn more about these universities and their work by meeting some of them in person at the Talloires Network Leaders Conference at Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico on June 21-23.