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CMENAS Fall Colloquium. Higher Ed between the Global Economy and the 4th Industrial Revolution

Shana Cohen, University of Cambridge (UK); Magdalena Karolak, Zayed University (UAE)
Monday, October 31, 2022
12:00-2:00 PM
2022 CMENAS Fall Colloquium: Higher Education & Reformation across the MENA: A Geopolitical Exploration

“Between the Global Economy and the 4th Industrial Revolution”

Shana Cohen, University of Cambridge (UK): Why doesn't higher education lead to jobs in North Africa?

This presentation will examine how governments in the region, like that in Morocco, have invested in higher education and the political and economic importance of this investment. While participation in higher education has increased, unemployment rates amongst graduates have remained relatively high compared to groups with lower education rates for decades. This has implications for intergenerational equality, social and political identity, and even public revenue based on taxation. These trends provoked the Arab Spring and continue to be critical for politics, despite the backsliding on democratic reform. The presentation explores these issues substantively and how they can be researched.

Magdalena Karolak, Zayed University (UAE): The complexity of tertiary education reforms in the Gulf Cooperation Council: A case study of Bahrain

This presentation explores, to begin with, the growth of tertiary education institutions in the context of the Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC) countries. The overview focuses on the expansion of the sector in light of the population growth, absorption of graduates into the labor market, economic diversification, and strategic planning deployed by the GCC governments. Added to this are the requirements related to the 4th Industrial Revolution and the role of education in preparing a versatile workforce. The analysis also stresses the differences in terms of business models, the variety of the educational offer, and the student body. Secondly, using the case study of Bahrain, the presentation illustrates the processes of standardization, regulation, and control over tertiary education institutions and the difficulties experienced in the past with regard to meeting the requirements. All in all, the overview presents the complexities of carrying out educational reforms in the GCC context.

Speaker Bios:

Shana Cohen is the director of TASC, an independent think tank based in Dublin that focuses on issues related to inequality and democracy in Ireland and the EU. She is also an affiliated lecturer with the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, and co-editor of the Journal of North African Studies. She has conducted research in Morocco for many years, examining the social consequences of economic policy and the political role of civil society. Her current interests include how to reduce long-term unemployment and underemployment in the MENA region and the economic and social impact of climate action and investment in climate-oriented industries in the region.

Magdalena Karolak is associate professor of humanities and social sciences at Zayed University, UAE. She received her Ph.D. in linguistics, MAs in political science and in Latin American studies, and a BA in French language. Prior to working at ZU, Professor Karolak held assistant professor positions in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. In 2014-15, she was an American Political Science Association MENA fellow. Her research interests include transformations of societies in the MENA region and comparative linguistics. Professor Karolak has published more than 50 journal articles and book chapters on the shifting gender relations, social media, culture and identity, and political system transformations in MENA countries. She is the author of three scholarly monographs.

Register to the virtual event:

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Off Campus Location
Location: Virtual
Event Link:
Event Type: Class / Instruction
Tags: Cmenas Colloquium Series, Middle East Studies, Virtual
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, International Institute, School of Education Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education