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Barbara Petzen

Barbara Petzen

Contact Information:


Barbara Petzen

Adjunct Professor, Maxwell in Washington, D.C.

Director, Training Initiatives, Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Director, Middle East Connections

Highest degree earned

Ed.M., University of Illinois


Barbara Petzen is director of training initiatives with the Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy at CSIS. In this role, she designs and delivers executive education and other training programs with a focus on experiential learning in leadership, communication, innovation, negotiation, temperament assessment, career development and geopolitics.

Beyond her work at CSIS, she is director of Middle East Connections, a not-for-profit initiative specializing in professional development and curriculum development on the Middle East and Islam, global education and study tours to the Middle East for American educators. She is past president of the Middle East Outreach Council, a national consortium of educators working to further Americans’ understanding about the Middle East.

Petzen previously worked as education director at the Middle East Policy Council. From 2001 to 2007, she served as outreach coordinator at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. She has taught courses on Middle Eastern history, Islam and women's studies at Dalhousie University and at St. Mary's University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She also taught Arabic and history at Harvard University while studying in the Ph.D. program in history and Middle Eastern studies.

Ms. Petzen earned an Ed.M. in learning design and leadership at the University of Illinois, a B.A. in international politics and Middle Eastern studies at Columbia College and a second honors B.A. as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in Oriental studies. Her academic interests include Ottoman and Middle Eastern history, the history and present concerns of women in the Middle East and Muslim communities, the role of Islam in Middle Eastern and other societies, relations and perceptions between Muslim societies and the West, the necessity to globalize K-12 education, best practices in diversity and inclusion, and technology-enhanced education.

Areas of Expertise

Leadership, communication, learning design