Kerr Family Scholar to join UCLA this fall

Kerr Family Scholar to join UCLA this fall

A graduate student from Lebanon is the inaugural winner of this new fellowship.

The Center for Near Eastern Studies is delighted to welcome the inaugural recipient of the Kerr Family Centennial Scholars Endowment, Sima Ghaddar, this fall. The endowment supports the education of students from the Middle East at UCLA.

Ghaddar will pursue a Ph.D. in UCLA’s Sociology Department, where she intends to study governance practices in Lebanon. Her work uses network analysis to study the relationship between state institutions and alternative institutions of governance. Her interest in the changing nature of nonstate actors, particularly their political consolidation and patronage networks, has driven her earlier graduate research as well as the professional positions she previously held and will continue to inform her work as a doctoral candidate at UCLA.

After receiving a B.A. in political studies with a minor in philosophy from the American University of Beirut, Ghaddar worked as a researcher at the university’s Issam Fares Institute for Policy Studies. There, she helped produce a report on policies affecting housing and shelter for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. She then completed a Master’s Degree in political sociology at the London School of Economics, with a thesis on the relationship between social networks, symbolic capital and political authority in the reconstruction strategies of Hezbollah after the 2006 war with Israel.

Most recently, Ghaddar has been working from Beirut, Lebanon, as a policy associate for The Century Foundation, a progressive, nonpartisan U.S. think tank. Her research there, published on the Foundation’s website both in print and podcasts, focuses on identity and mechanisms of social control in Lebanon and the greater Middle East, primarily Syria, Egypt, and Iraq.

The Kerr Family award is dedicated to promoting international understanding and peace through education in the social sciences and humanities. Since the family has deep ties to Lebanon and the American University of Beirut (AUB), they are delighted that a scholar from that country with a degree from AUB was selected as the first awardee by the fellowship selection committee. “The Middle East and its people have been a treasured part of my life since I was a student at the American University of Beirut during my junior year at Occidental College,” said family head Ann Kerr. “I am a great believer in the transformative experience of living and studying in another country.”

Ann fosters that exact experience for hundreds of scholars every year as coordinator of the Visiting Fulbright Scholar Enrichment Program for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, a post she has held at the UCLA International Institute since 1991.

Published: Friday, July 27, 2018