‘‘Scholarship and Service: Reconsidering the Arab Uprisings,’’ presented by alum Tamara Wittes ’91, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Wittes is the author of Freedom’s Unsteady March: America’s Role in Building Arab Democracy, which is about the decline of Arab autocratic states in 2008. After the book, she found herself working for President Obama and Secretary Clinton in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau of the State Department when uprisings began to challenge those regimes in 2011.
How did her scholarship of Middle East politics and policy prepare her for that moment, and what did it leave out? What did she learn about the difference between studying policy and making it? When truly unexpected events hit U.S. foreign policy, is it possible for policy makers to learn or assimilate new understandings while managing a crisis?