Aya Fatima Chamseddine has been exploring the ways that Lebanese youth get indoctrinated into armed militant groups—or trapped in dead-end jobs that encourage them to join dead-end sectarian political parties, or flee the country. Her path-breaking reports for Synaps brought the voices of her research subjects to life, shedding light on thorny policy questions with a narrative flair. What is the “youth problem” in the Arab world, and is it really that different than in the rest of the world?

Synaps is a new research collective based in Beirut and founded by veteran policy analyst Peter Harling. It has taken an innovative approach to training local researchers, and has adopted a method of radical transparency, addressing in public on its website the challenges of conducting fieldwork, shaping research, finding funding, and reaching an audience. Peter and Aya discuss the wider challenges of shaping policy while producing deep, original, and relevant research.

Participants include:

  • Aya Fatima Chamseddine, fellow, Synaps
  • Peter Harling, founder and director, Synaps
  • Thanassis Cambanis, senior fellow, The Century Foundation