2018 Young Leaders Institute: Middle East


In order to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, students need to be globally competent. The Young Leaders Institute (YLI) is a week-long program intended to prepare Houston high school students for leadership in a globally interconnected city and world. Students will engage in the four tenets of global competency:

  • Investigate the world
  • Recognize perspectives
  • Communicate ideas
  • Take action

For 2018, Asia Society is offering three different sessions. The third session will focus on the Middle East and address the following issues (subject to change). Asia Society staff will also arrange a field trip on one of the days of the week.

  • Communal cooperation, peace-building, consensus, and dialogue
  • Economics of natural and renewable energy resources
  • Foreign investment and economic growth
  • Governance and geopolitics
  • Refugees, humanitarian issues, and internal/regional displacement
  • U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East
  • Women and social issues in the Middle East

Students will learn the value of collaboration as they work in teams, researching, debating, and presenting solutions for the challenges facing our world. They will be mentored throughout the week by Asia Society staff and local experts in their respective fields. All content provided will help students form arguments when taking the side of an issue and be invaluable when presenting policy recommendations on the Institute’s last day.

Over 70 students benefited from the Young Leaders Institute in 2016 and 2017. For questions, please contact Paul Pass, Business & Policy Programs Manager, at PPass@AsiaSociety.org or 713.496.9915.

About the Speakers

Claudia I. Baba headshot

Claudia I. Baba received B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from the University of Houston where her research focused primarily on comparative politics, political theory, and American politics. Active in education, politics, and art, she is a former high school social studies teacher, and director of education outreach at the World Affairs Council of Houston, where she coordinated programs like the World Cultures Summit and Global Issues In-Depth. She has worked on local, state, and national political campaigns and was field organizer for the Arab American Institute, a Washington based nonpartisan national leadership organization. She served on the executive committee of the award-winning Houston Palestine Film Festival and was local liaison for the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Since 2012, she has served as an officer for the Arab American Educational Foundation (AAEF), which was formed in Houston in 1985 to promote understanding of Arab culture and history through the endowment of university chairs, sponsoring academic programs, lecture series, cultural performances, scholarships, and research. AAEF has established Endowed Chairs in Modern Arab History at both Rice University and the University of Houston. She currently teaches International Politics and Intercultural Issues at the University of St. Thomas.


Emran El-Badawi headshot

Dr. Emran El-Badawi is program director and associate professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Houston. He founded the Arab Studies program at UH and he has designed, implemented and assessed degree programs in the Humanities and Sciences. These include degrees in Arab-Middle East Studies, Religious Studies and interdisciplinary studies in Energy, Development and Sustainability, with a focus on US-Middle East relations. El-Badawi has consulted for various industries, including government, law and oil & gas. He is also active in program development and fund raising. El-Badawi is also the founding executive director and treasurer of the International Qur'anic Studies Association, which is the world's first learned society of its kind. Part of IQSA’s goal is to bridge the divide between scholars in the west and those in Muslim majority countries through international conferences.

El-Badawi has published in English as well as Arabic and has made dozens of national as well as international media contributins or appearances, including for The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor and Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne (ARTE). His awards include honorable acclaim by the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize for his book on The Qur'an and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions. His current research projects include a book on 'Arab Liberalism' between secular nationalism and political Islam, as well as a project documenting the evolution of Eastern Church/Canon Law to Shariah Law. El-Badawi has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Rutgers University, and he received his Ph.D. with honors in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago.

About the Facilitator 

Krista Nix-Buckner Image

Krista Nix-Buckner is a Social Studies teacher and Debate coach at Katy High School.  She earned a B.A. in International Studies and Political Science from Texas A&M University in 2001.  Currently, she is working on a M.S. in Learning Technology at the University of North Texas.  As an undergraduate, she lived in Rabat, Morocco for a semester while researching a paper on local NGOs and their movement for a liberalization of Moroccan Family Law. In 2003, as a Vernacular Modernities Fellow under a grant from the Ford Foundation, Krista spent the summer living in Manado, Indonesia.  Her research there focused on the development of rotating credit associations as one response to tight credit environments for small businesses and private borrowers.  These experiences have fostered in her a love of teaching students about politics, economics, and culture in societies with a majority Muslim population.

Additional Sessions

Session 1: China | Monday, June 11–Friday, June 15
Session 2: India | Monday, July 16–Friday, July 20

Education and outreach programs at Asia Society Texas Center are made possible through generous funding from Karen Chang, Greater Houston Community Foundation, and the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation. Generous funding also provided by the Friends of Asia Society Texas Center, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional programming and exhibitions to Asia Society Texas Center.

Program Sponsors

2018 Young Leaders Institute Collaborator

World Affairs Council of Greater Houston

Event Details

Mon 30 Jul 2018 - Fri 03 Aug 2018
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, Texas 77004

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