Matt Gordner (political science, University of Toronto) studies the politics of democratization and authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa. His dissertation examines youth empowerment, social movements, and civil society organizations in Tunisia before and after the "Arab Spring." Prior to the University of Toronto, Gordner was a Fellow at the Dorot Foundation. Gordner holds a B.A. in philosophy and political science from York University, an M.A. (magna cum laude) in Middle Eastern history from Tel Aviv University, and an M.A. in political science from the University of Alberta. He has also worked with Consultancy Africa Intelligence, and he is the founder and director of the Peace by Piece Initiative, a not-for-profit organization organizing and promoting dialogue on sensitive political issues of local and global scope. Gordner has received a number of awards for academic and community leadership, including the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship (Master's), Graduate Student Alberta Heritage Scholarship, Government of Alberta Citizenship Award, Ranjit Kumar Fellowship, University of Toronto Alumni Association Graduate Scholarship Award of Excellence, and an American Political Science Association Middle East and North Africa Civil Society Fellowship. He currently resides in Tunis, Tunisia.
Experience as a Trudeau scholar
I received the Trudeau Scholarship entering the first year of my PhD program at the University of Toronto. The Scholarship afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively during the early stages of my program, and it helped tremendously in acquainting me with the local contexts and contacts that have proven invaluable to the depth and scope of my research. Over the course of the duration of the Scholarship, I was also able to organize and attend a number of conferences, workshops, and events in Canada, the United States, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa that enriched both my academic and associational work. Being able to meet frequently with the cohort of 2012 Trudeau Scholars (as well as other Scholars, Mentors, and Fellows) at Trudeau events was really inspiring. My Trudeau Mentor, Avrim Lazar, was an unbelievable help throughout the process, always providing strong support and much welcomed advice.
One of the most outstanding aspects of the Trudeau Foundation is that it provides Scholars with opportunities for both personal and professional growth. The Foundation events, and especially the Summer Institute, are a time for personal and professional development, learning and reflection, and rigorous and constructive discussion, debate, and dialogue among a diverse group of fascinating, creative, engaged, and dedicated people from the private, public, and academic sectors. The culture of collaboration, the exchange of innovative ideas, and the strong community relationships that are forged along the way are remarkable to observe and a privilege to participate in. The Scholarship was truly formative in its capacity to introduce me to networks of friends and colleagues who share common concerns over the direction of pressing social and political issues facing us as Canadians and global citizens.