The Middle East Small Grants program is supported by the Institute for Society, Culture and the Environment and the Global Issues Initiative, and is designed to provide seed money for Middle East-related research within Virginia Tech.

This program offers grants between $1,000 to $5,000 to support faculty research on the greater Middle East.  Applications will be evaluated based on their contribution to scholarly and policy knowledge and to building capacity at Virginia Tech.  Inter- and cross-disciplinary engagements are especially encouraged.  Special consideration will be given to projects that have a strong possibility of gaining external support from public or private funders.   


Grants can help cover costs such as:


  • Field research
  • Research assistantships
  • Organizing meetings with collaborators/co-authors
  • Specialized training
  • Purchasing books, software, or equipment
  • Translation services



How to Apply 

Applications will be accepted at any time during the academic year. In one page (single spaced) please provide the following information:

  • Description the Project: Describe the research activity and its anticipated impact on the field.
  • Potential External Funding: Indicate which public agencies or private philanthropies will be approached to support the project going forward.
  • Budget: Describe how the money will be used and why it is important to the project at this stage. Funding must be used within six months of the receipt (including summer).


Email applications to Ariel I. Ahram (SPIA).  Applications will be acknowledged, reviewed by a panel, and decisions made within four weeks. 



Past Middle East Small Grants

Social Networking and Job Search for Saudi Youth


Saudi youth suffer from high rates of unemployment and spend a long time between graduation

and finding their first job. The fact that the country imports plenty of labor challenges the

conventional wisdom in the reasons for their high unemployment and long job search. The Saudi

government has implemented several policies to assist the integration of youth into the private

labor market, mainly relying on financial incentives that have failed to make a difference (EPoD



The broad idea behind our proposal is that behavioral incentives, such as peer effects,

can be more effective than financial incentives (J-PAL 2013, Sacerdote 2011). These effects

provide incentives for youth to supply effort in schools and can also be effective in job search

after graduation, which is currently unstructured and takes place within family networks rather

than a network of peers. Positive peer effects can help youth overcome the unavoidable

frustrations in looking for a job in the Saudi private labor market, which is dominated by

expatriate workers. Peer networks provide emotional support, access to new information and

experiences, and help change youth mindset that defines government jobs as appropriate careers.


In order design policies that take advantage of peer effects, it is important to know how youth

use existing online networks, in particular the Twitter and WhatsApp platforms on which they

are very active. This project explores the extent to which Saudi youth use online social networks

to search for jobs. The principal activity of the project is to map the communication activities

and characteristics of the online social networks. This project takes advantage of the archiving

facility (Hadoop cluster) and trained computer science students associated with Prof. Ed Fox’s

Digital Library Research Lab.

Impact of Displacement on Child and Family Development of Syrian Refugees:

A longitudinal Pilot Study


Syrian refugee crisis is referred to as one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our generation. As of March 2016, 4.8 million Syrians are refugees and 6.6 million are displaced within Syria (UNHCR, 2016). Half of them are vulnerable children who are at heightened risk for malnutrition, diseases, social and emotional problems, discontinuation of education, abuse, trafficking, and child marriage. Equally vulnerable are these children’s parents who have experienced mass violence, displacement, and deaths of and separations from family members. The uncertainty, hardship, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety disorders that many Syrian refugee parents experience appear to make it enormously challenging for them to provide affectionate, effective, and nurturing care to their children (e.g., Leventhal & Kim, 2014). Wartime parenting even results in violence, conflict, and emotional neglect (Wadsworth, 2010). Yet, parents play a critical role in helping children cope with the trauma, adversity, experience of war, and displacement.


The primary purpose of the project is to chart out risk and resilience processes in Syrian refugee families. A growing number of studies have identified multiple problems and resources that this special population needs. Sparsely documented is about important roles that strong family ties, religious beliefs, and hospitality and collectivism commonly shared within the rich Arabic cultures might play in buffering some of the most devastating impacts of displacement on Syrian refugee families. Much sparser is a longitudinal study that helps us to get a better understanding of vulnerability and invincibility at individual and family level of change over time. Longitudinal designs will help establish sequences of events and subsequent developmental outcomes (e.g., Kim, 2012). Carefully considering attrition problems often reported in longitudinal studies (Kim, 2007) and a minimum number of data points needed for statistical analysis of individual and family level of change (Kim, 2004), the current project proposes to follow a panel of 200 refugee families at three different points in time, with a six-month time interval between two data points.

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NIH Next Generation Researchers Initiative

NIH has launched the Next Generation Researchers Initiative to bolster support for early-stage and mid-career investigators to address longstanding challenges faced by researchers trying to embark upon and sustain independent research careers.


Faculty Spotlight

Jim Hawdon's research on online extremism.