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The Egypt Symposium Highly Rewarding for Scholars and Students Alike


The Independent Study Committee (ISC) of 2007-2008 of Glendon’s International Studies Program was once again able to bring a unique and outstanding international experience to Glendon and the entire York community through the organization of the 13th Annual International Studies Symposium. After six months of assiduous preparation and development, Dialogues on Contemporary Egypt took place on February 23rd, drawing almost three hundred attendees and scholars from all over the world. Among the many formidable participating scholars were Emad Shahin of Harvard University, Habiba Hassan-Wassef of Cairo University, and Fullbright Scholar Hadeer Abo El Nagah of Carleton University.

This year's International Studies Symposium attracted almost three hundred attendees

The conference was also attended by Dr. Farkhonda Hassan, Secretary General of the National Council for Women in Egypt and Mrs. Hala El Bishlawy, Egyptian Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, both of whom presented at the conference as keynote speakers, accentuating the importance of strong relations between Canada and Egypt, as well as Egypt’s progress towards democracy.

The organizers supported their choice of Egypt as their focus of study and research with a variety of reasons. “…As the oldest and most populous country in the Middle East, Egypt's political importance has shaped the region throughout its history. Its geographic 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: Hadeer Abo El Nagah, Fullbright Scholar, Carleton University speaks at the Human Rights and Minority Issues Panel

Attendees could choose to attend two of the following six panels: Geopolitics & International Security; Environmental Security; Democracy and Civil Society; Human Rights and Minority Issues; Society, Culture and Religion; and Economics and Development – all of them examining issues that are extremely pertinent to the future of contemporary Egypt. During the intermission, the guests sampled Egyptian-inspired cuisine and enjoyed a wonderful cultural presentation by Arabesque Dance Company.

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity to become part of the Egypt Symposium and share with you this enriching experience”, said Habiba Hassan-Wassef. “It gave me great pleasure to visit Canada and to work with your very efficient and resourceful team. I congratulate you for your thoughtful and careful planning and organization of all aspects of this event... from the scientific program to the entertainment, and the personal care you extended to each one of us.” Omar Ashour of McGill University added, “It was a great pleasure meeting all of you at the symposium. I really enjoyed it and I can't stress enough what a wonderful job you had done.”

The conference proceedings will be published in the following months.

The ISC wishes to thank the many sponsors and benefactors, who through their support were able to make this ambitious endeavour possible. In particular, they give special thanks to York Alumni, the Glendon College Student Union, and York University’s Office of the Vice-President Academic.

Right: Arabesque Company Dancers performed traditional Egyptian dances

“This project provided the committee members with a great opportunity to become familiar with Egypt, and enhance our knowledge of the issues concerning the Middle East region”, said Kate Bobko, the organizing student team’s director of communications. “In addition, the symposium also enabled us to augment our organizational skills as undergraduate students, and researchers.”

For more about the Egypt Symposium, its sessions, participants and events, visit their website,

The 14th Annual International Studies Symposium planned for 2008-2009 will focus on Venezuela.

Submitted by Kate Bobko, the Independent Study Committee’s director of communications and Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on April 1, 2008