Researchers of the Center are free to choose research themes which fall within their specific sphere of interest, as long as they adhere to the broad scope of scientifically relevant issues related to the work of the Center. Some of these themes have received attention and emphasis for a long period and projects in such fields have managed to attract and sustain a continuous flow of funding. In particular, five thematic directions have received increased emphasis and focus, allowing SRC to become a leading research center in the following program areas:
Impact of our Research on Community Service and Policy Support
It should also be noted that the type of grants raised by SRC captures the core of AUC’s mission of community service and policy support, allowing SRC to carve an important niche for itself within the scholarly and action communities in both Egypt and the Arab region and to contribute to AUC’s standing and image both regionally and internationally.
In particular, SRC programme emphasized three features:
- A policy and action orientation, where the knowledge produced by SRC’s high quality research is relevant and responsive to development needs, and gets translated into policies and actions.
- Nurturing a supportive environment, where SRC is providing training and capacity building services and the necessary supportive environment that allow the development of individual skills and institutional capabilities.
- Regional orientation and international collaboration where SRC is expanding its service beyond Egypt and becoming a leading focal point of policy related research and training in the region. Furthermore, SRC seeks to consolidate its ties with international collaborators.
These features are further discussed in the following:
A large number of SRC programs are being conducted in full collaboration with executive bodies in Egypt. This collaboration allows the recommendations proposed to be endorsed and adopted. Examples of such collaboration during the period include the collaboration with National Council for Women (Illiteracy activity), the Ministry of Investment (ICA survey), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (Child Protection Policies) and the Ministry of Health (Health Sector Reform).
The following table provides a summary of the type of collaborators SRC has been working with.
Collaborators with SRC Collaborators Number Percent Government 19 31.1% International agents7 34 55.7% \international Universities 7 11.5% NGOs 1 1.6% Total 61 100 %
In addition to SRC regional training workshops that are discussed in a separate section, SRC strives to serve as a supportive center to national and regional capacities. Under the grant by Wellcome Trust, SRC carried out a program for residential research fellowships to Egyptian and Arab professionals to conduct research in population and health fields in the Arab countries with focus on differentials within and between Arab countries. The program was designed to support the production of high quality, policy relevant research, and to give professionals the opportunity to develop and expand their demographic and health knowledge, skills, and experience. The interns spent between two and three months at the Center and during this period were supervised by SRC faculty members. A total of six interns from Sudan, Jordan and Egypt received these internships.
Pilot research is another mechanism adopted by SRC to pursue new ideas and to support the research efforts of other institutions and individuals. A number of collaborative activities were pursued. An example of these is SRC’s involvement in the production of curricular materials on social medicine and reproductive health for the process of accreditation of Al-Azhar and Damascus university medical schools. Researchers from AUC, AUB, Al-Azhar, Damascus, and Birzeit worked on developing such materials.
Regional collaborations include:
Collaboration with American University of Beirut:
With the support from Wellcome Trust and Ford Foundation, the SRC and the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut have been undertaking a collaborative program. The objective of the program was to complement and capitalize on the relative advantages of both institutions through strengthening academic links and sharing expertise. The program has provided a supportive institutional environment for intellectual exchange, staff development through visiting fellowships and training of graduate students. The collaborative activities included
- Developing a training manual for qualitative methods useful for health and population researchers working in the Arab world
- A session at the Reproductive Health Working Group of AUB on Health and Demographic Transition was hosted by SRC. This session reflected on the health implications of demographic transition as conceptualized by the work of SRC researchers.
- A working group formed by faculty from Egypt, Lebanon Syria and Palestine involved in medical education and training. This group was engaged in developing new and more effective approaches to enhancing the social skills and knowledge of medical students.
- Collaboration in developing web-based teaching resources open for AUB and AUC.
Collaboration with Birzeit University, Palestine
Under the Research Programme Council managed by Sussex University (see below) SRC, as the regional Hub for the Middle East has had close collaboration with Birzeit University in Palestine for all programmatic aspects of the “Empowerment of Women” project.
Collaboration with counterparts in Jordan and Syria
SRC has received an informal approval by UNFPA for a research on the “Fertility Plateau in Egypt, Jordan and Syria”. In this project, collaboration will be initiated with scholars and relevant bodies in each of Jordan and Syria.
In addition to SRC regional orientation, a number of SRC activities involved partnerships with well established international counterparts. Some of them deserve special mention as the have resulted in significant contributions or are likely to be continued in the future:
International collaborations include:
Collaboration with Emory University
SRC has carried out a number of research projects in collaboration with Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, among which were the subgrant “Working family Nexus in Egypt”. The latter was part of an international research effort, conducted in collaboration between Emory University and the University of Michigan, and in which centers in Argentina and Nepal also took part.
One of the results of this collaboration was a book on “Family in the Middle East-Ideational Changes in Egypt, Iran and Tunisia”, published by Routledge, London and New York ( 2008). The book, edited by Hoda Rashad and Kathryn Yount was recently selected to be part of Routledgbe paperbacks direct scheme and will be offered on demand on the Routledge website.
Collaboration with UN-Habitat
Health inequity is one of SRC’s main foci, and the collaboration between SRC and the Monitoring System Branch of UN-Habitat was an important project in this context. The findings from this collaboration have been the subject of a major publication by UN HABITAT that is currently in press.
Collaboration with University of Sussex
The project “Catalyst of Change to Enhance Women’s Empowerment” is carried out by a Research Program Consortium (RPC) consisting of:
- Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
- Center for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CGSA), University of Ghana
- Nucleus for Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies (NEIM), Federal University of Bahia, Brazil
- Social Research Centre (SRC), the American University in Cairo, Egypt
- Shirkat Gah, Pakistan
The inclusion of SRC in such a prestigious group not only gave the Center the possibility to work with international high caliber collaborators, but also truly showed the Center’s standing as an internationally acknowledged high standard research center.
Collaboration with Schneider Institute of Brandeis University, USA
Negotiations are well under way for a comprehensive collaboration between the two institutes on
• Strengthening the capabilities of researchers from both research organizations
• Facilitating the acquisition of joint funding to conduct international health policy work
• Dual degree
The recent past has seen two new developments. The first is SRC being identified as a partner institution with a number of international bodies. This implies that SRC is chosen to support the Institution’s program in specified areas and can receive direct funding from these institutions without a competitive process. For such a partnership to be established, SRC went through an appraisal process from committees in these institutions.
Another recent development is the involvement of SRC in jointly fundraising with Government. This is a positive development providing previously untapped funding opportunities and allowing a stronger research and policy partnership. Some examples of this new development are the recently approved new project on “Salheya Initiative for Women Economic Empowerment” (UNIFEM, Ministry of Labor and SRC) and the project on “Conditional Cash Transfers” (UNDP, Ministry of Social Solidarity and SRC).