Translation

Translating the Social Sciences and Humanities into Arabic

The Rationale

The Alexandria Trust is developing a radical new contribution to transforming learning in the humanities and social sciences in the Arab world. We aim to translate and publish analyses of seminal works in the social sciences and humanities into Arabic, strengthening the comprehension and critical thinking of Arab youth, and thereby their life chances and opportunities for engagement and dialogue.

A succession of reports over recent years, from the World Bank, UNESCO, OECD and others, has highlighted both the urgent need for investment in education in the Arab world and the powerful role of the humanities and social sciences, when well taught, in developing resilience through nurturing enquiring minds and the ability to think critically.

Arabic remains the first language of tuition for the great majority of students of the humanities and social sciences in the Arab world – and the only language of the majority of young Arabs. An estimated 10% of the seminal books in these disciplines, taken for granted in western education, have an Arabic edition.

The Challenge

The Trust has been offered access to a new library offering analysis and criticism of seminal books across 14 disciplines in the humanities and social sciences from all the regions of the world. The library is being developed in English by the Trust's sister organisation, Macat International. Following its launch in August 2015 (see macat.com), the list of books is now growing fast, with the plan to include analyses of up to 100 key works in each discipline.

Each book in the library, a slim volume of around 15,000 words consisting of 12 short essays on a single seminal work, examines the influences, ideas and impact of each featured book. They offer an introduction to the seminal work, far more than a summary. Rigorously market tested, these resources have been shown by research at Cambridge University's educational psychology unit to improve both comprehension and critical thinking.

With large ambitions, we start small. The Trust has so far attracted commitments which enable us to translate 40 Macat analyses into Arabic. Having laid these foundations we are ambitious to grow.

Organisation and Leadership

The Alexandria Trust is an Arab led educational charity registered and based in the UK. Four of its seven trustees are Arab. The translation initiative is directed by David French, until 2014 the founding Executive Director of the Alexandria Trust and formerly Chief Executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Since its foundation in 2011, the Trust has been committed to working through well selected partnerships with donors and sponsors, translators and publishers known for their integrity and quality; and to achieving the long term sustainability of its projects. In addition to sponsors, we now have translation agreements with three leading institutions across the Arab region and are negotiating publishing agreements with four reputed Arab publishers.

Interested in this project? Contact us.