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AUS hosts veteran US diplomat as Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow
Wendy Chamberlin, an internationally renowned American diplomat and the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow at American University of Sharjah (AUS), gave a talk on "The Role of the Middle East Institute Within the Gulf Arab Region," yesterday, October 17.
The public lecture revolved around the Middle East Institute (MEI), of which Ambassador Chamberlin has been president since March 2007. She explained how one purpose of the MEI was to create awareness about Middle Eastern Affairs in the US. "In this year of the Arab Spring, our media is inundated with stories from this region. While many Americans are becoming more familiar with the Middle East, a deeper understanding of this region is still lacking," said Ambassador Chamberlin.
According to Chamberlin, there are almost 6,000 think tanks in the world and over half of them are in the United States, which, with its freedom of speech, provides a fertile ground for think tanks to grow on. "This makes what we do more relevant. We need to dispel the misconceptions about the Arab world that may be put out by other think tanks in Washington."
Although they are not directly involved in the government, the purpose of think tanks is to put out ideas and influence the policy makers. "This way, private citizens get to inject their ideas in policy making. In a way, you could say that think tanks are an informal branch of the government. And on the flip side, policy makers appreciate think tanks as a source of public commentary to put things in context."
The lecture ended with Ambassador Chamberlin encouraging students to apply for the MEI internship program and inviting the audience for future MEI conferences. "We provide a unique niche as we do not advocate for just one position, nor are we funded by one entity. We are funded by anyone who believes in fact-based research and advice," she concluded.
Chamberlin, who has been a visiting fellow at AUS the week of October 16-20, conducted classes, seminars, workshops and lectures, and met with students and faculty members informally throughout the week to share her practical knowledge in the areas of women's issues, terrorism, refugees, education, development, and culture and society.
A 29-year veteran of the US Foreign Service, Chamberlin was US Ambassador to the Laos People's Democratic Republic (1996-1999) and to Pakistan (2001- 2002). During her ambassadorship in Islamabad, she played a key role in Pakistan's cooperation for the US-led campaign against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Ambassador Chamberlin also lectures on Pakistan and regional security issues at think tanks, universities and international forums and has testified before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the US House of Representatives National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Chamberlin has a Master of Science in Education from Boston University and participated in the Executive Program at Harvard University. She holds an honorary PhD from Northwestern University.