Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Zeina Barakeh came of age during the country’s civil war, witnessing several Israeli invasions. Since then, she has earned an undergraduate degree in interior design from the Lebanese American University in Beirut, spent a few years teaching art at the American Community School in Beirut, and finally moved in 2006 to San Francisco, where she completed her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute.
Today, Barakeh lives and works as a visual artist in the Bay Area, but her experience of war growing up never left her. While looking for a way to expand her perspectives within her art, she found the Online Master of Arts in Global Security program within Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies.
“I chose this degree to learn about war from another angle than the one I have experienced growing up in Beirut …” Barakeh said. “I am primarily a visual artist. I am pursuing the MA in global security as a form of structured research for my artwork, which is about war, polarization and colonialism.”
“I fell in love with ASU after researching many schools all over the U.S.,” Barakeh said. “The global security program curriculum is fabulous, and so are the faculty; it’s one of the top programs in the country.
“ASU felt different because of its commitment to supporting students at whatever stage they are at in their life and career. Most schools I looked at catered mostly to applicants who have just finished high school and are at the beginning of their professional lives, which I find limiting. The MA in global security is an online program, and it is perfect for me as I had a full-time job at SFAI at the time I started, and I didn’t want to leave the Bay Area where I live.”
Every time class registration rolled around, Barakeh would meet with the program’s co-director, Jeff Kubiak, to figure out what courses would be best suited to her research.
“Zeina is a deeply motivated learner who understands the value of active engagement,” Kubiak said. “You could count on Zeina to show up to nearly every event hosted by the MA, and her engagement always enriched the conversation through thoughtful questions and powerful insights from her truly remarkable life experiences.”
After graduation, Barakeh hopes to continue to her work as an artist while also offering her unique perspective within a conflict-related think tank or in a humanitarian organization, with the MA in global security degree providing both an in-depth knowledge of security-related issues while also enriching her art practice as she becomes more knowledgeable in the field of war and military studies, and more cognizant of the most up-to-date technologies.
“My most significant project thus far includes an animation, Standard of Capital, on San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower Top, streamed throughout September 2021,” Barakeh said. “The program gives me access to a network that I otherwise don’t have access to, and it has already greatly influenced the direction of my artwork. I am now developing projects more focused on emerging technologies and the human body, and the laws of war.”
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