Summer Internship Program at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs – American University of Beirut
Each semester, the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at AUB offers the opportunity for a six to eight week internship to local and international students seeking first-hand experience in the fields of communications, public policy, and international affairs. This summer, twenty-five interns from different parts of the world joined the internship program at IFI.
The major highlight of this semester’s internship was joining efforts in organizing the International Panel on Exiting Violence Conference (IPEV), which was held at AUB in June 20-22, where summer interns provided a relentless support, and contributed to the conference’s success.
Diverse activities, meetings, and lectures were planned over the course of the internship to introduce the interns to the nature of IFI’s work and vision; starting with an orientation session where the interns were briefed about the internship program, and were given an insight into their roles and responsibilities, conducted by IFI’s Internship Coordinator May Achour.
As part of the internship program’s activities, summer interns participated in a discussion with IFI’s director Dr. Tarek Mitri. The interns were keen to learn about the role of the Institute which Dr. Mitri described as neither exclusively a research center, nor a typical think tank. Dr. Mitri likened the role of the Institute to that of a translator, who tries to bridge the gap between researchers, policymakers, and individuals. For example, one of the goals IFI aspires to achieve is to improve the Lebanese public opinion regarding the Syrian refugees by relying on accurate facts and figures. As for the Institute’s academic output, Dr. Mitri highlighted the importance of the Institute’s publications that are tailored to both academics and the general public.
Furthermore, the interns shared their ideas on how to make their internship experience more productive. Kinda Majari, an intern in the Energy and Security Program, suggested that IFI allow interns to work on a collective project, to which interns could contribute based on their personal perspectives and academic qualifications. Moreover, Natali El Khatib, who interned at the Communications Office, recommended integrating the Institute’s policy briefs in the university students’ research papers. When asked about the pathway of his career, Dr. Mitri explained that he never set a solid career plan and that life takes you to unexpected places. In order to reconcile between his two distinctive professions as both a politician and an academic, he strives every day to make use of his previous experiences in his present endeavors.
The interns attended two brown bag meetings, the first was held with IFI’s assistant director Rayan El-Amine, and focused on politics of Lebanon. Mr. El-Amine analyzed the recent Lebanese parliamentary elections and its outcomes, and explained the new electoral law and the new distribution of districts, by comparing this year’s elections to the previous one. He also critiqued the Lebanese confessional system and the low number of women’s representation in the parliament.
Another brown bag meeting was organized with Dr. Ali Ahmad, Director of the Energy Policy and Security in the Middle East program at the Issam Fares Institute, where he initiated a collaborative discussion about the link between science and public policy.
Dr. Ahmad highlighted the huge gap between science and public policy where policymakers do not always take scientific or quantitative research into account. Furthermore, he encouraged the interns to think about major threats that are present in the world such as global warming, cyber warfare, refugee crisis, nuclear proliferation and epidemics.
Lastly, the Institute organized a trip with the interns to Tyre for a much-needed break and a nice way to end their internship.
This article was written by IFI’s Communications Interns:
Nanor Vosgueritchian, Raja Abou Ezzedine and Natali Khatib.