The Institute for Critical Thought was founded in 2015 as an independent site for research and teaching in the liberal arts. It provides a space for creative and critical engagement with the arts, humanities, and social sciences while cultivating  relationships among members of the community.


Based in Amman, the Institute applies an array of resources from philosophy, sociology, and theology, as well as from the practice of studio art, to the Levant’s present moment, with a view to the global configurations of power in which the region operates.


Our flagship program is composed of intimate, graduate seminars in the Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Supported by a need-based Scholarship Program, the seminars attracts members from around the world. Alumni range from scholars and professionals to social workers and artists.


The Institute's research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as on curricular development and teaching, extends internationally. With liaisons in Cairo, Sao Paulo, London, and New York, the Institute works towards building intellectual and artistic bonds around the world.

Founding Director


A. M. Awad is a faculty member at the Institute, where he convenes seminars on Arab and western thought, and a Fellow at Harvard University, where his research traverses history, literature, and religion. He has undertaken ethnographic work in the US, India, and Brazil, and lectures internationally on education and the humanities. A board member of Change, he was a Herchel Smith Fellow at the University of Cambridge.

Professor of Philology


S. O. Saleem is a faculty member at the Institute, where she convenes seminars on comparative literature and poetics. She holds doctoral degrees in Arabic literature and criticism, and her research spans the history, theory, and practice of classical and contemporary Arabic writing. A celebrated teacher, Saleem has taught language, literature, and criticism for ten years, cultivating a pedagogy of intimacy and intellectual agility. Elswehere, she is a practitioner of unpublished fiction.

Associate Director


Omar Zakaria is the associate director of the Institute, where he tends to the library and manages the daily operations of the programs in Arabic and English. A writer and historian, his work on the history of libraries has appeared in print, and his second novel, Al-Qurtubi, will be published in 2020. Zakaria is the non-diegetic voice of Arabic specials on National Geographic, and of the Institute's phone.

The Institute for Critical Thought

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