A Medal for Keith David Watenpaugh

photo of Keith Watenpaugh working with refugee students
 Watenpaugh and Eslam Abo Alhawa, center, help Ali Almarzouki register for the Article 26 Backpack in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (Joe Proudman/UC Davis)

The Institute of International Education today awarded a Centennial Medal to Keith David Watenpaugh, director of Human Rights Studies at UC Davis. The presentation took place at the institute’s Centennial Summit in New York City.

The institute cited Watenpaugh for his “friendship, guidance and dedication” in support of its mission, and made specific reference to his Article 26 Backpack project that uses face-to-face counseling and cloud-based technology to help refugees and other displaced people document and share their educational accomplishments. Launched in June 2018, Article 26 Backpack already has about 1,000 people using it.

After the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Watenpaugh became increasingly convinced of the role of higher education in building more just and peaceful societies in the wake of war. 

A historian of the modern Middle East, he has led a multidisciplinary research team that produced several major studies on Syrian students and scholars who are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Greece and Turkey. 

He wrote the award-winning book Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism. Most recently he was a distinguished visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.