News Release

William McCants Named Fellow and Director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings

Washington, D.C. – William McCants, a former senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State and an expert on Islamic politics, has joined the Brookings Institution as a fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and as director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, Brookings President Strobe Talbott announced today.

“Will brings a real depth of knowledge on the critical issues facing the United States and the Islamic world,” Talbott said. “At this critical time in the history of the Middle East and North Africa, we are fortunate to have Will’s expertise. The Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World will benefit greatly from his leadership.”

McCants is an adjunct professor at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow with the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. From 2009-11, McCants served as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of State, and also served as the program manager for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Minerva Initiative–a project which drew on the expertise of academics and others who study Islam, China and other issue areas. He was a senior analyst with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and served in research positions with the Center for Naval Analyses, the Institute for Defense Analyses and West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

“We look forward to Will’s contributions both to the Islamic World Project and our annual U.S.-Islamic World Forum,” said Senior Fellow Tamara Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. “We will benefit greatly from his wide experience and vast knowledge of Islam and its political movements. We look forward to his contributions to our research activities as well as our many public and private events.”

McCants holds a B.S. in history from Lander University, an M.A. in Near Eastern studies from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern studies from Princeton University. He is the author of Founding Gods, Inventing Nations: Conquest and Culture Myths from Antiquity to Islam (Princeton University, 2011), and is working on a second book about the scriptural history of the Koran.

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