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Dialogues on Contemporary Egypt - This Year’s Glendon International Studies Conference


Glendon’s Independent Study Committee (ISC) in the International Studies Department has chosen contemporary Egypt as its focus of study for its 13th Annual Symposium on Saturday, February 23rd, the latest in this award-winning series entirely created and mounted by Glendon’s undergraduate students.

Why Egypt? The organizers explain: “…As the oldest and most populous country in the Middle East, Egypt's political importance has shaped the region throughout its history. Its geographical position and geopolitical situation have had an effect on its economic development, and its political relations with neighbouring states. As it shapes its modern identity, Egypt must balance the demands of a modern state. This includes joining good governance, democratization and human rights, with its traditions rooted in ancient cultures and religions. The social, political and economic forces influencing the formation of this nation state make Egypt a fascinating case for students of International Studies.”

Left: The student organizing committee of the Egypt Symposium, l-r: Genevieve Light, Anais Kadian, Laura Monteith, Rachael Dempsey, Hani El Masry, Jenilee Ward and Kate Bobko

An additional objective of the symposium is to build relationships between Egypt and Canada, and to promote a broader understanding of Egypt within the international framework. To this end, some very high-profile panelists have agreed to participate: scholars, political figures and members of Toronto’s Arab community. These include the Secretary General of the National Council for Women in Egypt, the President of the Arab Community Centre of Toronto, the Commercial Consul of Egypt in Toronto, the Head of the Economics Department at Cairo University, The desk officer for Egypt at Canada’s Department of External Affairs, a visiting professor at the Department of Government at Harvard University, and several scholars from various Canadian universities working in related areas.

But the symposium is much more than a conference. All through the fall term (in 2007), the seven participating students have attended a series of seminars on Egypt, aimed at providing them with a solid foundation of knowledge about the region, and engaging them in research on specific related topics. While the symposium is the largest and most public manifestation of the project, it is also followed by a proposed field research trip on location this spring, and the publication of the symposium’s proceedings and research papers during this summer.

The success of these major undertakings is heavily dependent on the help of volunteers for the symposium, and of donations which are crucial for the realization of the field trip and the publication.

The organizing committee is encouraging students to volunteer for various tasks during the day of Febr. 23rd. Help is needed for setting up, registration, ushering, coat-check and clean-up. Anyone interested in helping out is asked to contact the symposium’s Director of Logistics, Hani El Masry,

Donations to the field trip and the publication are very warmly welcomed. They can be directed to Marie-Thérèse Chaput, Glendon’s director of Advancement, tel: 416.487.6801, (if a tax receipt is needed). Donations can also be made online on the conference’s website (if tax receipts are not required) at This website also contains additional information about the symposium and the entire project, as well as a review of previous such events.

Submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on January 25, 2008