October 11-13, 2021 | Connecticut, USA

This workshop will focus on the intersection of Abrahamic traditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and public health. We will consider how human health and wellbeing are viewed in Abrahamic religious and cultural traditions and, drawing in part on these insights, will explore opportunities to confront some of the region’s most pressing public health challenges. This is the 2nd workshop of the UConn Abrahamic Programs for Academic Collaborations in the MENA Region initiative. It will bring together 40-50 leading scholars from the University of Connecticut, Yale University, and from the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Participants will either live in, perform, or plan to perform new collaborative research to improve health in the MENA region.


This workshop will examine how Abrahamic traditions, religious beliefs, and cultural factors influence both personal and professional approaches to health, illness, clinical care, and public health strategies in the MENA region. The workshop is based on the premise that access to behavioral and biomedical interventions to improve individual and group health is a human right. Participants will consider how religion and culture can interconnect with public health, not simply in terms of individual values and beliefs, but also as a shared basis for defining rights and solidarity and a resource for developing and implementing public health approaches and programs. The workshop will engage key principles of health promotion and health behavior change, in part through a human rights lens, including the right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress with respect to health, as well as the right to participate in decisions affecting individual and community health. 

Core workshop goals are to: 1) advance the science on population health and health behavior change in the MENA context; 2) build on existing relationships and develop new collaborations, both between researchers from the U.S. and the MENA region and within the MENA region; 3) create collaboratively derived, empirically testable and actionable ideas on how to improve selected domains of public health in the MENA region; and 4) explore how Abrahamic traditions impact approaches to health promotion and health behavior change in addition to perspectives on health and human rights in the MENA region.

With these overarching goals in mind, the workshop will focus on several selected health domains, which comprise critical public health problems in the MENA region, and for which workshop participants have considerable shared expertise. Some of these health domains impact different points in the lifespan, which correlate to the role of the family—where special attention will be accorded.


This workshop is a joint venture between:

University of Connecticut
- Abrahamic Programs for Academic Cooperation in the MENA Region
- Office of Global Affairs
- Human Rights Institute
- Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP)

Yale University
- Divinity School
- School of Public Health
- MacMillan Center Council on Middle East Studies

Emirates Policy Center