Credit: Monasosh on Flickr

This week marks the first anniversary of the popular uprising in Egypt that resulted in the overthrow of the then president, Hosni Mubarak. Yesterday, as new rounds of demonstrations were taking place in Egypt, I attended the launch of an Institute of Development Studies bulletin on The Pulse of Egypt’s Revolt, exploring how and why the uprisings began. At the event, participants discussed the degree of optimism that might be held over whether the changes that so many strived for will be achieved. Will basic needs be met and social justice be achieved? The protests in Egypt continue long after Mubarak’s removal, with the military regime now the target.

We are particularly interested in the prospects for science and innovation now that a new parliament has been established.  The many images we saw from Egypt at the time of the uprising included those of demonstrators protecting the Library of Alexandria from looters by forming a human chain around it. This particularly struck a chord with us as the Library is one of the partners in the Egyptian case study of the Atlas of Science and Innovation in the Islamic World project.  This multi-partner project aims to chart the prospects for science and innovation across the member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, through a series of country case studies.

As part of the evidence gathering process for the Egyptian case study, a small workshop was held at the library with a group of early career researchers, at which they discussed their hopes and aspirations for the future of science in Egypt. The anniversary has certainly given Egyptian scientists an opportunity to reflect on changes, amid positive reports of increased funding for science.

The Egypt case study of the Atlas project will be published later this year.