The Hollings Center for International Dialogue aims to foster improved understanding and expand channels of communication between the United States and the Muslim world. In pursuit of its mission, the Hollings Center convenes dialogue conferences and other programs that explore novel perspectives on important international issues and expand channels of communication across opinion leaders and experts.
The Hollings Center takes a unique approach to its programs by convening a diverse mix of academics, journalists, civil society leaders, businesspeople and government officials from the United States and countries with predominantly Muslim populations in an informal setting to discuss underserved but critical subjects. Hollings Center programs focus on the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Central Asia, striving to avoid stereotypical U.S.-centric points of view. These forums are non-partisan in nature and are invitation-only events featuring a modified not-for-attribution rule designed to foster open discussion. The Center issues public Dialogue Snapshot reports highlighting the major conclusions and policy recommendations from conferences.
Since its inception, the Hollings Center has convened dialogues that fall into three main categories:
Next Generation Dialogues provide a venue for a rising generation of experts from Muslim-majority countries to engage in cutting-edge discussions with their American counterparts on issues of shared importance. Focusing on experts, academics, journalists, businesspeople and policymakers below the age of 40, these conferences allow for youthful voices to join the conversation and create connections with their counterparts in the US and neighboring countries.
Past examples of Next Generation Dialogues include a November 2013 conference on Decoding Perceptions in U.S.-Turkey Relations, which explored influences on U.S. and Turkish foreign policy processes. In February 2013, the Center hosted Iraq’s Foreign Policy and Economic Challenges, delving into future possibilities for a rising generation of U.S. and Iraqi experts and policymakers.
Regional Policy Dialogues cover consequential and challenging topics that link Muslim-majority nations and the United States. Dialogues center on subjects that are critically relevant yet under-discussed in the public sphere. Participants have included a broad spectrum of government officials, experts on domestic and foreign policy, academics, economists, civil society leaders and practitioners. Regional dialogues have addressed topics relating to Central Asia, Arab economies, Iran, and Middle East television media. One remarkable recent Regional Policy Dialogue, Foreign Policy and Competing Mediation in the Middle East and Central Asia, compared the two regional approaches to foreign policy.
Higher Education Dialogues foster cooperation between universities and other institutions of learning through the exchange of ideas, expertise and best practices. Dialogues focus on issues of significant importance to higher education communities in the United States and the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Europe and Eurasia. Participants include distinguished university presidents, administrators, senior officials and educators from over a dozen countries.
Recent dialogue conferences have explored topics that include independent universities in the Muslim world, study abroad programs and quality assurance in higher education. Notably, a 2012 dialogue on Oral History in the Middle East and Central Asia discussed the role of oral history in conflict and post-conflict settings.
In addition to our flagship Dialogue Conference program, the Hollings Center holds a Speaker Series and manages a Small Grants Program for past participants.
The Speaker Series has included private and public roundtables, panel discussions, workshops and other seminars. Events take place in Istanbul and Washington, D.C. and are often held in coordination with partner organizations. These events expand upon dialogue topics, reinforce and expand networks, and promote conference outcomes to a broader audience of researches, professionals and journalists. Examples of recent events include an event with Egyptian academics on the summer 2013 events in Egypt that led to the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood and an event on the Iranian presidential election in June 2013.
The Small Grants Program enables select participants to pursue collaborative projects that build on critical issues raised at the dialogue events. The Center provides grants to selected participants to support follow-on initiatives such as international visits, pilot studies, professional development opportunities, workshops and research-driven written or video projects. The small grants program promotes cross-cultural collaboration that amplifies conference outcomes and deepens participant networks. Examples of ongoing small grants include an effort to synthesize policy recommendations for Western officials towards Central Asia and expanding networks of female business leaders in the Ferghana valley.