The cooperation between the University of Bayreuth and Tobruk University, Libya started a few days ago with a special conference.
On October 17th 2023, the President of University of Bayreuth, Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible, and Mr. Abdulhamid Saad, Director of the International Office of Tobruk University, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities. Organized by PD Dr. Thomas Hüsken and Prof. Dr. Amal Obeidi from the University of Bayreuth and Sarah Hartmann, Head of the University of Bayreuth’s Gateway Office in Bordeaux, the workshop addressed a comprehensive range of topics.
It explored the challenges that Libyan higher education institutions have been facing during times of civil war, political division and transition, while also highlighting the opportunities that internationalization and international cooperation can offer in this context. The participants agreed that universities in Libya can serve as safe spaces that foster an environment for open dialogue and learning in potentially turbulent times and that higher education institutions can and should act as catalysts for positive transformation. The workshop also addressed the role of civil society in promoting democracy and political participation during times of transition and it focussed on the chances of cooperation between civil society and universities. In addition, a comparative perspective between Libya and Turkey was provided.
The participation of the German Embassy in Libya and the German development cooperation “Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)” contributed important points of reference for a practical discussion. The workshop developed concrete steps of cooperation, which will be taken in the future, such as capacity building, training and exchange of academic staff as well as students, scholarships and joint research activities.
The Libyan delegation from the University of Tobruk was led by Dr. Fathi Almutkhatiri, Director of the Postgraduate Program, and Abdulhamid Saad, Director of the International Office at the University of Tobruk. The delegation included Dr. Eanas Aboubaker, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Noura Bobakr, International Office, as well as Salem Zaed, Mohamad Talab, Hashem Saleem representing the academic mid-level faculty, and graduate student Ahmed Abou Bakr. The President of Tobruk University, Prof. Dr. Hassan Khairalla joined via Zoom. Tobruk civil society was represented by Alia Hamid, Association of Free Libyan Women Tobruk, Hind Houdi, Tobruk activist and scholar, and Mr. Mahmoud Obeidi, Libyan Boyscouts Tobruk. A special guest was Dr. Aly Masednah, former Libyan Ambassador to Germany. The workshop was attended by Bayreuth colleagues Dr. Arnim Heinemann, Director of the International Office, Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann (Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence,) Prof. Dr. Eva Spies, Director of the Institute for African Studies, Dr. Jane Ayeko-Kümmeth, Institute for African Studies, Dr. Franz Kogelmann (Coordinator of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence) and the Turkish scholar Eylem Camuroglu Cig. In addition, Dr. Christiane Kraus, Director for Development Cooperation and Culture in Libya of the German Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, and Morteza Emami, Head of the project “Promoting Women and Young People for Peaceful Development in Libya” of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), joined the workshop via zoom.