University of Delaware

Institute for Global Studies

ALUMNI Make a Gift


May 2013

Dear Student:

Congratulations on your selection as a participant in the Middle East Partnership Initiative's Student Leaders Program at the University of Delaware. Many excellent candidates from throughout the Middle East and North Africa were considered, and that you were selected speaks highly of your academic standing, your character, and your potential.

This letter is intended to serve as a welcome message and to provide you with some information about the Program. We know that you must have many questions, and we hope that we will answer some here.

Questions and answers are important in themselves, but it is our belief that the act of questioning and the search for answers are what make both strong scholars and good leaders. It is our sincere hope that your experiences as a participant in the Program and as a visitor to Delaware and the United States will both help you to find answers to questions which you have and will also encourage you to ask questions in the future.

The Program is supported by the United States' Middle East Partnership. The University of Delaware (UD) was selected to host the Program.  With your cohort of student leaders, the University will celebrate ten years of MEPI – which means you will be part of a vibrant and active family of UD MEPI colleagues and peers from around the world.

Within UD, the Institute for Global Studies (IGS) is responsible for implementing and administering the Program. Professor Lesa Griffiths is the Academic Director of the Program. Professor Audrey Helfman is the Leadership Director of the program and Professor James Magee of UD's Department of Political Science and International Relations will be one of your more frequent instructors.  Daniel Bottomley will oversee the administration of the program and assist in making academic arrangements. Jonathan Keyser is the Program's Administrative Coordinator. Together, with the assistance of a team at IGS, we have assembled an impressive academic program drawing on faculty from across the University, complemented by specially invited speakers.

During most of the program, you will be in residence on the University of Delaware's main, 2000-acre campus located in Newark, Delaware. Tracing its roots to 1743, UD is a state-assisted, privately governed university and is a land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant, urban-grant, and Carnegie Doctoral/Research Extensive institution. It has seven unique colleges: Arts and Science; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Business and Economics; Engineering, Health and Nursing Sciences; Education and Public Policy; and Earth, Ocean, and Environment. UD offers 127 undergraduate, 84 masters, and 42 doctoral programs. It has a student body of approximately 21,000 (16,521 undergraduate and 3,634 graduate).

Your stay in Delaware will include several short (one to two day) trips, as well as an extended trip to the western state of Colorado. In addition, the last week of the program will take you on a whirlwind tour of Boston and New York City. The program concludes in Washington, D.C.

The academic program covers American culture, history, and politics from a variety of disciplines and includes training in leadership skills. The academic program is complemented by a variety of activities where student-participants engage in assisting the less fortunate while learning about volunteerism. Site visits and study-tours complement the academic program.

We should note, however, that while the MEPI Program is funded by the US Government, its design and curriculum is the creation of the University of Delaware. We are committed to providing you with a variety of perspectives. Among your faculty and speakers (as well as your readings) will be some voices that are critical of the United States and its government. Some might go as far as one of America's greatest philosophers, Henry Thoreau who wrote in 1849: "How does it become a person to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer, that one cannot without disgrace be associated with it." Others will be equally as strong in their support the government. But all will likely agree that being self-critical and critical of our government -- no matter how often we may seem apathetic -- is a central part of what it is to be an American.

You will note that the name of the Program is the "Student Leaders Program." This wording is intentional, for intermixed in the American Studies curriculum will be several workshops on leadership. As part of the Program you will ask yourself what is it to be a leader, what is leadership, how am I a leader, and how might I provide leadership in the future. We consider leadership both to be a specific yet broad idea. As scholars and educators, it is in our nature to help our students make the most out of life both for themselves and for others.

In many ways the time you spend with us will seem like a vacation. You will be on holiday from your regular routine and will spend time exploring new places. However, please keep in mind that the Program's success depends on your commitment to adhere to its classes, readings, and schedules. Although we have built a good deal of "free time" into the schedule, you will often feel burdened with a busy schedule and academic assignments. Do keep in mind that your attendance is expected at each of the Program's lectures, seminars, and discussions. Some of the social and cultural events have been designated as optional; however, we do expect that you will want to make the most of your time here by participating in as many as possible. This is, in part, owing to our desire not only to build scholarly understanding, but also to build a community with you -- and between you and your fellow participants -- which will last beyond your stay with us.

Elsewhere in this website are several pages concerning your program, including many logistical points which you should review before your depart. You can find short biographies of the program staff on the website. I encourage you to read these biographies in the coming weeks; a staff member will be in touch with you shortly to develop a short bio of you. Please take the time now to thoroughly read the website.
We will be in regular e-mail contact with you before, during, and after the program. If you have any questions regarding the program, please feel free to contact us beforehand via e-mail, phone, or fax. The entire staff of the Program looks forward, very much, to meeting you and working with you at UD. We hope that the program will prove to be just the beginning of lasting scholarly ties and friendship.

With warm regards,

Lesa G. Griffiths, Professor and Academic Director of the MEPI Program
Audrey Helfman, Associate Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration 
James Magee,  Professor, Political Science and International Relations
Jonathan Keyser, Administrative Coordinator


  • Institute for Global Studies  •   Elliott Hall, 26 East Main Street  •   Newark, DE 19716  •   USA
    Phone: ++1 (302) 831-2852  •   Fax: ++1 (302) 831-6042  •   © 2011