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Villanova-CRS Symposium Examines The Arab Spring: Transitions in the Middle East & North Africa

On Oct. 25, Mark Schnellbaecher (CRS, Middle East Regional Director) will share experiences and offer perspective on the political events and popular aspirations unfolding in the Arab world

VILLANOVA, Pa. – The political events and popular aspirations unfolding in the Arab world, and their root causes, are complex and require careful analysis and a careful response.  On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Mark Schnellbaecher – Middle East Regional Director, Catholic Relief Services – will share his experiences and offer a perspective on what might be an appropriate role for U.S non-governmental organizations operating in the Middle East.  This discussion is part of a Symposium, “The Arab Spring: Transitions in the Middle East & North Africa,” sponsored by the Villanova University Partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS).

Free and open to the public, the event begins at 2:30 p.m., in the Villanova Room of The Connelly Center, located on the campus of Villanova University.

Schnellbaecher has been the regional director for CRS in Europe and the Middle East since 2003. In his 15 years with CRS, he has served in Thailand, Pakistan, Cambodia, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia, and has also held several positions at CRS headquarters in Baltimore.

Villanova University history professor Maghan Keita and political science professor Catherine Warrick will also participate in the symposium, drawing on their expertise in Middle Eastern and North African history, politics, economics, traditions and social contexts to raise considerations and questions that are critical to analyzing the emerging reality and responding appropriately.

The symposium will be followed by a faculty workshop, "Teaching the Arab Spring: Critical Considerations and Resources," which will introduce new voices and questions, continue discussion from the symposium, and provide resources to support serious discussion, study, and teaching.

Schnellbaecher will also speak at a student "Town Hall" at Villanova University on Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m., in the Driscoll Hall Auditorium, as part of the Global Solidarity Network (GSN). Created through a partnership between CRS and four Catholic universities – including Villanova – the GSN is a unique learning experience linking college classrooms to the dynamic people and events shaping the world’s response to global hunger, health and poverty through modern technology. Nearly 80 students from Villanova and Cabrini College will be present at the Town Hall with questions being submitted via YouTube from students at Catholic colleges and universities around the country.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others.  There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more information, please visit