The Provost's Initiative on the Middle East is a year-long effort to make space in the campus community for rigorous and respectful debate in which differing perspectives are welcome on current and past conflicts in the region.

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In a Feb. 12 message to the Duke community, Provost Alec D. Gallimore announced the initiative, which is building on the activities of Duke departments, schools, centers, and institutes to:

  • foster constructive and civil dialogues about these complex, contentious, and emotionally charged issues in ways that enhance understanding and build skills that lead to shared learning;
  • take advantage of the talent and expertise available at Duke supplemented as needed with the voices of outside scholars, writers, and political actors; and
  • nurture a sense of community, particularly between individuals from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.

The initiative is led by Bruce Jentleson, the William Preston Few Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science and an expert on the Middle East as well as international security and U.S. foreign policy broadly. Professor Jentleson is working in partnership with Vice Provost Abbas Benmamoun and Associate Provost Noah Pickus and in consultation with a faculty working group and others in the campus community, including academic programs in Trinity College with expertise on the Middle East as well as the Center for Muslim Life and Jewish Life at Duke.

Together, they will be organizing a variety of events, programs and engagement opportunities that strive to model thoughtful and civil engagement, provide a forum for different perspectives on the conflict, and enhance understanding based on expertise and evidence-based scholarship, and supporting others at Duke who are striving to do the same through their own activities.

As many of you told me, communications about these conflicts can be fraught... But as members of a pluralistic community who strive to practice civil discourse, we shouldn’t shy away from conversations just because they’re difficult. 

Provost Alec D. Gallimore

Past Events


Out of Crisis, Opportunity?

Middle East expert Robert Satloff T'83 discussed war and peace in the post-Oct. 7 Middle East.

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Acts of Silence in Literature

Celebrated Palestinian author Adania Shibli spoke on the power of silence in a April 3 lecture at Duke.

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The Day After the War in Gaza

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met with students and faculty and spoke at a public event.

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Amid War, the Constitutional Dilemma for Israel

Israeli Supreme Court Justice Daphne Barak-Erez called her country's Jewish and democratic identities its "inseparable twins."

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Finding Common Ground in the West Bank

An Israeli and and a Palestinian described their experiences bridging differences in the Middle East at the Divinity School.

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Humanizing the Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East

Peace in the region will require recognizing the humanity of other side, a panel at a Sanford School event argued.

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Charting a Path Forward in the Middle East

Former U.S Ambassador to Israel and Egypt Daniel Kurtzer discussed the future for Israel and Gaza.

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  • Bruce Jentleson, Public Policy  
  • Abbas Benmamoun, Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement
  • Noah Pickus, Associate Provost and Professor of Public Policy


  • Gary Bennett, Dean, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences (Academic Structures)
  • Kim Hewitt, Vice President, Institutional Equity (Belonging and Civility)
  • Mary Pat McMahon, Vice Provost / Vice President, Student Affairs (Engagement)
  • Luke Powery, Dean of Duke University Chapel and Professor of Homiletics and African and African American Studies (Interfaith and Pluralism)
  • Joe Salem, University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs (Education)

Faculty Working Group

  • Abdullah Antepli, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Elana Friedman, Campus Rabbi and Jewish Chaplain
  • Shai Ginsburg, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • David Hasan, Neurosurgery
  • Mbaye Lo, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Ellen McLarney, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Eric Meyers, Director, Center for Jewish Studies
  • Jen'nan Read, Sociology
  • Mara Revkin, Law and Political Science
  • Joshua Salaam, Director and Chaplain of Muslim Life
  • Rebecca Stein, Cultural Anthropology
  • David Toole, Theology, Ethics, and Global Health
  • Erika Weinthal, Environmental Policy and Public Policy

Contact Us

We want to hear from you. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for activities, please email