With 2014 rattling to an end, I just wanted to use this year's relaunched old school Abu Aardvark blog to highlight a pretty incredible number: 303.
That's how many different scholars participated in at least one of the core activities of the Project on Middle East Political Science during 2014 (not counting the dozens more who joined in our - crowded! - wine receptions at APSA, ISA and/or MESA). That includes more than three dozen mostly junior scholars who received small research and writing grants; six pre-tenure scholars who worked with a dozen discussants at the annual Junior Scholars Book Development Workshop; more than one hundred different scholars whose work we solicited, edited and published in the Monkey Cage; more than sixty different scholars who participated in six major workshops at four different universities and contributed to five volumes of original essays in the POMEPS Studies series; a dozen brave souls who sat down with me for a POMEPS Conversation and two dozen who came to GW to speak at book launches or panel discussions. I'm sure there are some I didn't count. And looking ahead, 2015 might well make 2014 look like a slow year!
Being able to work with, support, and publicize the work of over 300 different scholars in one year, and to see their work having so much impact and getting so much attention, really does make it all seem worthwhile. It's a testament to the vibrancy of the much-maligned field of Middle East political science. It's also a tribute to the nineteen senior scholars who have served on the POMEPS Steering Committee, from which all the selection committees are formed, and who repeatedly volunteer their scarce time to serve as workshop discussants and readers and hosts. Much of the credit also goes to Mary Casey and Cortni Kerr, the team which makes the whole project run. It is the junior scholars who are at the heart of the initiative though, and I get really excited when I look at their talent, ambition and skills and the work which they are beginning to produce.
So let me end this difficult year with a profound expression of gratitude to all of the scholars who have been a part of this POMEPS initiative, to the supportive foundations such as the Carnegie Corporation and the Luce Foundation, to my friends at the Monkey Cage, and to the great POMEPS team. It makes it all worthwhile. I hope, and believe, that it makes a positive difference to the field and to the public's understanding of the Middle East. So thanks to everyone, and Happy New Year!