Since its establishment in 2007, Georgetown University in Qatar’s Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) has sponsored and supported major cross-disciplinary research initiatives focused on the Gulf, Middle East, and Asia. This year, CIRS is celebrating its 10-year anniversary by issuing a commemorative report that presents archival data on its research accomplishments for the past ten years.
CIRS, the premier research institute of Georgetown University in Qatar, is devoted to the academic study of regional and international issues through dialogue and exchange of ideas, research and scholarship, and engagement with national and international scholars, opinion makers, practitioners, and activists. Its goal is to explore questions related to the Gulf region, the broader Middle East, and Asia through supporting original and theoretically informed research.
The Center sponsors major studies of regional and international significance by regularly identifying emerging socioeconomic and political trends, and developing research initiatives towards further focused scholarship. Over the past decade, the institute has published 29 books, 19 peer reviewed papers, and 32 summary reports across a broad range of topics, from food security in the Gulf to arts and cultural production in the GCC.
Director of CIRS Dr. Mehran Kamrava recalls the beginning of the center and remembers with gratitude and appreciation how it all started from humble beginnings: “It was a learning experience, because up until the early 2000s the Gulf region was not seen as an important and consequential area of research. I discovered how important and dynamic this region is in terms of developments and their repercussions elsewhere. I also learned what a blind spot it had been in terms of the broader study of the Middle East. We were fortunate to be able to fill a huge gap and to use our location, resources and our team as a basis of comparative advantage to that end.”
CIRS has pioneered pushing the limits, expanding its foundation of contributors, bringing in unconventional participants. The center invites practitioners or nonacademic guests, in addition to academic researchers, to take part in its discussions and study groups because “they agitate different parts of our brains and help us think differently,” says Dr. Kamrava. “They are in contact with everyday issues and problems, and sometimes academics, myself included, can get so bogged down in abstractions and in footnotes. We need constant reminders of what is actually happening in the world outside in the realm of policy makers, journalism and practitioners so that we don’t get caught in an academic echo chamber and to make sure that the impact of the topic that we study can be magnified.”
CIRS’s goal is to explore questions related to the Gulf region, the broader Middle East, and Asia through supporting original and theoretically informed research.