Amaney Jamal, the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics and Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, has been named the new Dean for Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA).
Jamal’s appointment comes after many months of search and vetting by an ad hoc committee established by the University to replace former Dean Cecilia Rouse. President Biden announced his intent to nominate Rouse as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in November 2020, and in March, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, leaving behind her position as SPIA Dean.
Jamal grew up in Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, and her appointment as SPIA Dean comes at a time of renewed focus on Palestinian lives, narratives, and scholarship with the latest iteration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“For young Palestinians who are working really hard to be accepted as professionals and community servants, this appointment demonstrates that institutions of higher education are places where we are reconciling divides and civilizational barriers between the West and the East to reverse the tides of racism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and all forms of discrimination and misunderstandings,” Jamal said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
Jamal hopes that her appointment signals to Palestinian youth and other members of marginalized communities that “possibilities are alive” and encourages them to continue working hard with the knowledge that there are realities beyond what they experience in their daily lives.
“Oftentimes, as a teenager, people would tell me that the world doesn’t care about Palestinians,” she said. “To emerge from that, and to have this rewarding career and be in this appointment, I hope it signals to everyone to never lose hope of what you can personally accomplish.”
Jamal has taught within the University’s politics department since 2003. Her areas of expertise include democratization, politics of the Middle East and North Africa, Muslim immigration and integration in the U.S. and Europe, inequality and economic segregation, mass political behavior, religion in public life, and issues related to gender, race, class, and sex.
Jamal was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020. In 2019, she received the distinguished Kuwait Prize in economics and social science. Her 2007 book Barriers to Democracy won the 2008 American Political Science Association’s Best Book Award in the Comparative Democratization section. In 2006, she was named a Carnegie scholar, and her works have been published in many prestigious political science journals.
Jamal has also collaborated on projects across departments and served on different University committees, including the Department of Politics Ad-Hoc Committee on Race and Diversity and the Dean of the Faculty Committee on Diversity, as well as executive committees for the Center for the Study of Religion, the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, the Near Eastern Studies undergraduate certificate program, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS), and the Program in Latino Studies.
Outside of Princeton, she serves as the principal investigator of the Arab Barometer Project, a nonpartisan research network that measures public opinion through surveys in the Middle East and North Africa. She also directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development and the Bobst-American University of Beirut Collaborative Initiative.
As Dean, Jamal said her first priority will be to make SPIA a welcoming community in which every student feels accepted, happy, and proud to be in the department.
“As a school that's training the next generation of policymakers and practitioners, we want to be on the cutting edge of that training and placing our students in the best positions where they can fulfill their visions and aspirations for public service,” Jamal said.
She added, “I firmly believe that every student should have an experiential learning in the policy realm, so we will continue to provide those resources and internships in actual policymaking settings to our students so that they acquire the requisite skills and experience to go on and be very influential.”
Jamal’s appointment comes amid an ongoing review of the SPIA graduate core curriculum, which assesses how the department deals with issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rouse previously assured students that this review — and a similar, upcoming review of the undergraduate curriculum — would continue after her departure.
Jamal said she hopes to build on the success of previous deans, engaging in conversation with student members of the SPIA community from day one of her tenure as Dean.
“I always welcome comments, insights, and advice,” she said. “I have an open-door policy, and students can always find me very accessible and approachable.”
As Dean, Jamal also aspires to uphold Princeton’s international reputation as a premier academic institution of higher learning. She hopes to ensure that Princeton is recognized across the globe for its “cutting-edge teaching and research” and its “embrace of diversity of people and ideas at all levels of teaching, learning, and research.”
Jamal is set to begin her appointment on September 1.