Salma Mousa is an Egyptian-Canadian PhD candidate in political science. She holds a BS in international politics from Georgetown University in Qatar. There, she researched the intersection of secular governance, integration, and democratization at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies and the Aljazeera network. She also worked on launching a regional online portal to tackle Arab youth unemployment, as well as a social science graduate school aiming to enhance the use of Arabic in academia. Her current research projects focus on non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East. As a SCID graduate student fellow, she seeks to investigate how policy-relevant interventions can improve trust and tolerance at the individual and societal levels.
How can social trust be rebuilt during and after violent ethnic conflicts? We answer this question by leveraging unique access to 20 internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, home to minority communities displaced by Daesh’s 2014 ethnic cleansing campaign. The goal of the project is two-fold: (1) to systematically survey 6,000 IDPs; and (2) to test whether a simple intervention – assigning Christian IDPs to a Muslim art or reading instructor – can rebuild trusting attitudes and behaviors among Iraq’s minorities. We thus aim to causally identify the effect of intergroup contact and answer a long-standing question in social science with particular salience for policy debates.