The UCB/KFAS Pilot Program

The UCB/KFAS Pilot Program, with a focus on contemporary Arab civilization and contemporary Gulf culture, addresses an important paradox: while people around the world express appreciation for the historic achievements of Arab Muslim civilization and admire the current economic growth of countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), they rarely make the connection between past glories and present-day successes. Among the foundational goals of the program is support for research that traces this legacy of Arab civilization in contemporary urban developments in the Gulf—a region of the Arab world that has flourished in the last few decades. The program defines the concepts of civilization and culture as encompassing all aspects of the humanities, the social sciences, and the professions—realms in which the Arab world has historically excelled. Its projects focus on the interconnected realms of the arts, architecture, development, planning, and urbanization in an attempt to identify areas of opportunity in cities of the Arab world, and GCC member states in particular. The UCB/KFAS Pilot Program reminds the world that the Persian Gulf, as it is commonly referred to in the West, is also the Arabian Gulf.

AN INITIATIVE OF The Kuwait foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS)

The state of Kuwait occupies a leadership position among the countries of the GCC and is globally recognized as the most forward-looking of its member states. Its government places great emphasis on the quality of life, education, and cultural awareness among its citizens. The focus of the collaborative program will initially involve joint activities between UC Berkeley and Kuwait University before expanding to include activities at other Kuwaiti universities. The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences has funded this pilot academic program as a precursor for further collaboration to establish a new Center for Contemporary Arab Culture on the Berkeley campus.


Program Goals

  • Bolster scholarly exchange between the United States and Kuwait and create opportunities for shared research on cultural and urban development.

  • Establish ties with long-standing academic units at UC Berkeley that have demonstrated leadership in furthering the study of Arab culture and development in the United States, specifically the College of Environmental Design (CED) and the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE).

  • Create opportunities for Kuwaiti and other GCC professionals engaged in all aspects of urban planning, architecture, landscape design, environmental design, new-media design, urban history, and related subjects to pursue advanced post-professional engagement in a region of unmatched resources for such study.

  •  Inaugurate a strong international program that we hope to call “Berkeley in Kuwait” and “Kuwait in Berkeley.”


​Components of the Program

The program has been carefully designed to achieve the aforementioned key goals and create a lasting tribute to Kuwait’s partnership with UC Berkeley. Toward these ends, CASES includes the following components.

The Teaching Excellence Component

Including the following elements:

  • Teaching Workshop(s) - Teaching Workshops, each with a duration of one to three days, are held annually at Kuwaiti universities. These workshops focus on methods and approaches to teaching, and each accommodates at least ten to twelve Kuwaiti scholars. Each workshop also focuses on a different faculty group, including junior staff, mid-career staff, senior faculty, and teaching assistants. 
  • Teaching Excellence Colloquium and/or capacity-building workshop(s) at UC Berkeley - A Teaching Excellence Colloquium is also offered for capacity building and is specially designed for the Kuwaiti faculty visiting Berkeley.
The Research Component

Including the following elements:

  • A visiting-scholar/postdoctoral fellowship - This enables recent Kuwaiti graduates with doctoral degrees to spend one week, one semester, or one academic year at UC Berkeley pursuing their own research.
  • One research fellowship each year - This  allows UC Berkeley faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and advanced Ph.D. candidates to do one to two weeks of fieldwork in Kuwait or to organize an academic event about Kuwait at UC Berkeley.
  • An opportunity for a mid-career or a senior faculty member - Faculty from Kuwaiti universities may be selected to spend a sabbatical year at UC Berkeley in a department to be agreed upon by the parties.
The Publication Component

This provides a training opportunity for junior faculty at Kuwaiti universities seeking to publish their work in refereed journals. Workshops conducted at UC Berkeley match individual faculty members from KU and other Kuwaiti academic institutions with faculty members at UC Berkeley who act as mentor-hosts during the writing of research papers. The Kuwaiti visiting scholars are nominated by their universities and reviewed by the UC Berkeley Faculty Director before being matched with and accepted by collaborating faculty at UC Berkeley. The program hosts two to four scholars from Kuwaiti institutions, who spend a maximum of one academic year at UC Berkeley.

The Professional Component

This is intended to enhance the interaction between UC Berkeley and the professional schools in Kuwaiti universities in such areas as architecture, engineering, and related applied fields.  It offers tailored collaborative initiatives between similar units at the respective institutions. The program may afford undergraduate students of architecture at Kuwaiti universities the opportunity to spend a semester or a year at UC Berkeley taking courses toward their degrees.

The component further includes design workshops of up to two days for participants who may be architecture teaching assistants, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Architecture students from UC Berkeley may travel to Kuwaiti universities accompanied by UC Berkeley faculty during the academic year to spend a week with their counterparts pursuing a joint design studio in which both groups of students collaborate and produce designs to be assessed and compared.