BEIRUT—A passionate advocate of teaching political science in higher education, Fadia Kiwan discovered her lifetime vocation due to circumstances that affected the course of her professional career in Lebanon, a volatile country marred by years of civil war and unrest.
Holder of a Ph.D. in political science from the Sorbonne in Paris and a degree in philosophy and psychology from the Lebanese University, Kiwan has dedicated more than four decades of her life to teaching, research and educational advancement.
She currently serves as director general of the Arab Women Organization, an international nongovernmental organization with headquarters in Cairo. Kiwan says the diplomatic position, which she has held for almost two years, has made her aware of how much she misses teaching and the university world.
“I discovered that I was mainly born to be a professor,” Kiwan said. “I feel much more comfortable in teaching and research, even though I initially wanted to join the diplomatic corps in Lebanon.”
“I studied political science in the first place to have a career as a diplomat,” she said, “but the war decided for me. I moved to France to continue my studies, although I had never intended to go for a Ph.D. in political science.”
Circumstances also thrust her into the field of education when she started teaching at the high school level while writing her dissertation. “Once my doctorate was in hand, I shifted to university teaching,” Kiwan said.
Founder of a Political Science Institute
While a professor at St. Joseph University of Beirut, Kiwan founded the university’s Institute of Political Science in 2002 and served as its director until 2014. She also set up a research center that operated as an observatory of good governance in the public sector, and helped put in place the university’s first school for Ph.D. candidates in political science, which was later incorporated into the Institute of Political Science.
She served as an advisor to Lebanon’s minister of education and minister of culture and higher education in the 1990s, and was frequently commissioned as a consultant by the United Nations and the Arab League.