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Home > Teen Authors > Barbara Petzen

Barbara Petzen

Photo of Barbara PetzenBarbara Petzen is a scholar and educator who has been very involved in helping others peacefully bridge gaps that divide them along cultural, ethnic, and religious lines. Ms. Petzen has focused her work on the gap that exists between Western and Muslim societies. To this end, she founded Middle East Connections, an organization that works to create a “more complex and accurate understanding of the Middle East and its people through professional development, study tours and outreach consulting.” She is currently the Director of Middle East Connections.

Barbara Petzen wrote the “Foreword” to The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria, which was written by Elsa Marston. Ms. Petzen titled her piece “Abd el-Kader: What Makes a Hero?” and in it she highlights exactly why the life of this Algerian freedom fighter should be of interest to parents and young adults in our own country and times.

For those who have read Elsa Marston's book The Compassionate Warrior, it is clear that the life of Abd el-Kader is a wonderful example of a story that can inspire others, and Petzen is a specialist in ways to inspire modern-day people to learn more about useful lessons that can be found in other cultures.

Barbara Petzen has designed and taught courses on Middle Eastern history, Islam, and women’s studies at Dalhousie University and St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She earned degrees from Columbia College and Oxford University, which she attended as a Rhodes Scholar. She was completing her PhD in Middle Eastern history at Harvard University when 9/11 happened, at which point she transferred her attention to outreach as the outreach director of Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Dr. Petzen’s academic interests include the history and present concerns of women in the Middle East and the Islamic world, the role of Islam in Middle Eastern and other societies, relations and perceptions between the Islamic world and the West, and the necessity for globalizing K-12 education in the United States.

Author Extras & Links


  • To learn more about the Abd el-Kader Education Project, click here.
  • Visit the website of the Middle East Outreach Council to learn more about its work, travel grants, book awards, and much more. Barbara Petzen was has been president of the Council since 2010, a post she will continue to hold until November, 2014.
  • The Facebook page of Middle East Connections has some interesting information on their activities and links to other resources. Dr. Barbara Petzen is the founder of the organization and is currently its director.
  • There is a very good interview with Barbara Petzen on the Middle East Studies Bulletin (2011) from Ohio State University. It is titled “Meet an Outreach Professional: Barbara Petzen,” and is found on pages 33-35 on this pdf document. Click here to open the pdf document in a new window or tab.


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