The Project on Middle East Political Science is an academic network which serves as the institutional home of the community of political scientists studying the Middle East and North Africa. In line with most other U.S. based institutions, POMEPS has suspended its workshops and conferences through the summer in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are actively developing opportunities to continue supporting academics, especially non-tenured faculty and graduate students, as they deal with these extraordinary challenges.
In line with that mission, POMEPS urges academic institutions to consider making significant adjustments to their academic policies for the duration of the pandemic crisis. Faculty at almost every institution have been required to develop online versions of their courses in a short period of time. Many are doing so while caring for children no longer attending school, or while caring for family members facing serious health challenges. Academic policies should reflect the magnitude of these disruptions to the ordinary career cycle of junior faculty and graduate students. Academic excellence is best achieved through supportive intellectual and professional communities, and this is a time for all institutions to do their utmost to sustain them.
POMEPS therefore recommends that academic institutions make several policy adjustments for the duration of the pandemic crisis response:
- extend the tenure clock for junior faculty, allowing them to care for their families and themselves without fear of reduced tenure prospects
- extend the fellowships and time to completion requirements for PhD students, and ensure that none lose their visa status through the closure of on-campus instruction
- forego the use of any form of teaching evaluations for the purposes of tenure and promotion during the virtual learning period
- make allowances for the disruption to research programmes caused by the closure of virtually all travel to the Middle East
- recognize that journal and book publications may be delayed by disruptions to the review process, lost opportunities for research travel, the indefinite impossibility of certain types of research, and the unevenly distributed burden of care
Marc Lynch, Director of the Project on Middle East Political Science