Syracuse University

Scholars Cross the Globe to Gain Insight and Exchange Experiences at SU

CELF Program

When Haykel Ben Mahfoudh arrived at the Maxwell School as part of the Civic Education and Leadership Fellowship (CELF) program, he came armed not only with curricular goals, but also with a determination to add his own voice to the scholarly life of the School. “I’m not here merely to learn,” said Mahfoudh, a professor of international law from Tunisia and one of six scholars from the Middle East and North Africa participating in the five-month fellowship at Maxwell. “I think we share common values and common interests, and we can learn from each other’s experiences. I have things to share, and that’s very important.” 

The three-year CELF program allows the Maxwell School to host 60 faculty members from under-served universities, colleges, and other post-secondary institutions across the Middle East and North Africa. The objective is to promote civic engagement in their home countries via improved pedagogy, teacher preparation, and curriculum development for related social science departments. This will be accomplished through the strengthening of access to information, broad research initiatives and improvement of the means by which students in the Middle East learn about civic engagement and democracy. Utilizing the Maxwell School's faculty and institutes, professional staff, and diverse student population, CELF Fellows with increase their knowledge of democracy and civil society, improve their pedagogy, and develop curriculum for their home institutions in order to communicate this knowledge to students in higher education settings.

Funded by the U.S. State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the CELF program was created in an effort to foster better understanding between the U.S. and Muslim world after 9/11. The program seeks to enhance the scholars’ teaching and curriculum development skills and understanding of issues relating to democracy and civil society. Participants attend seminars, mentor with faculty, network, and pursue research opportunities during their stay.

During his stay at Maxwell, Mahfoudh focused on curricular activities relating to international humanitarian law and civil society NGOs. He delivered a lecture on terrorism and conflict and approached a College of Law professor about a possible research collaboration. He also brought a valued perspective to conversations relating to his particular corner of the world: North Africa’s Maghreb region .

Syracuse University is one of a select few institutions to receive the Department of State grant to fund the three-year CELF program. For more on this program, click here.