As a consequence of the momentous political and social changes engulfing our region and the world, and the ensuing turmoil and uncertainty, great challenges are confronting our world, and the need for clear and focused thinking has never been greater. Nor could the input of engaged scholars be more relevant and valuable. Such contributions acquire added significance in relation to the clearly expressed popular demands for freedom, dignity and security, and the violent resistance these demands face from entrenched regimes in our region (and their external allies). Conscious of this need for urgent and serious attention from academics and intellectuals to these challenges, the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies is happy to provide a forum for these debates.

For this purpose, the School of Social Sciences and Humanities is this year launching a series of international of intellectual encounters under the title: "Issues of our Time". The series consists of annual events featuring an invited lead speaker, chosen with reference to his/her distinguished contributions to one or more fields in social sciences and the humanities. The invitee will deliver a research paper on an agreed topic and lead a debate in the company academics from within and outside the Doha Institute, including a number of invited international guests. The proceedings will be published in book form, both in Arabic and English.

The initiative aims to stimulate intellectual exchange on key issues of public interest in the fields of Humanities and the Social Sciences, at high levels of seriousness and depth. It will engage prominent scholars from around the world in a debate where a plurality of voices from diverse backgrounds and perspectives will interact and be heard. The staff and students in DI (and wider audiences in the region and beyond) will as a result interact directly with cutting edge research on key topical issues, further enriching deliberations on these pressing and relevant issues.

The inaugural event in this serious will take place on October 22-23 this year, and our main guest will be Professor Chantal Mouffe, Professor of Political Theory at the University of Westminster, is one of Europe's leading and most influential political theorists. Her topic will be populism and the shape of contemporary politics. Taking part are also Dr Azmi Bishara, General Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Professor María Luciana Cadahia, Professor of Philosophy at Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogotá, Dr Christophe Ventura, Senior Research Fellow at the French Institute of International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) in Paris, Professor Hamid Dabashi, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York, Dr Ismail Nashif, Associate Professor of Anthropology at DI, Professor Abdelwahab El-Affendi, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Humanities at DI.