MESP OFFERS NEW COURSE ON SECURITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST


In Spring 2011, Michael Makara taught a new undergraduate course titled PSC/MES 300: Security in the Middle East. The course’s primary objective was to help students understand the various dimensions of security by examining political developments in the Middle East since the end of World War II. Much of the semester was dedicated to understanding the important security issues that receive significant press coverage in the United States, with the Iraq War, the Arab- Israeli conflict, and Iran’s nuclear program all receiving attention during the first half of the course. However, the course also challenged students to think beyond these conventional security issues to consider the variety of other threats that individuals in the region face on a daily basis. Students were introduced to security concerns associated with water shortages, oil reserves, and growing refugee and migrant populations, among other issues.

In April, students from the Security in the Middle East course presented their research projects in a showcase event open to students, faculty, and members of the university community. Co-sponsored by the Middle East Studies Program (MESP), the Project on Democracy in the Middle East (DIME), the Civic Education and Leadership Fellow (CELF) program, and the Leaders for De- mocracy Fellowship (LDF) program, the event provided a forum for students to receive feedback on their work and raise awareness about the issues that they had studied during the semester. In addi- tion to creating detailed posters to display their work, students used a variety of multimedia tech- nologies to present research on topics such as the Six Day War, Yemen’s water crisis, and domestic workers in Saudi Arabia. Those in attendance were particularly appreciative of the comments and critique from the LDF and CELF fellows, whose unique knowledge of the Middle East made for thought-provoking discussion and debate throughout the afternoon. Students who participated in the event also competed for the best project prize, a distinction that Stephanie Herring and Jordan Whitaker earned for their work on Hamas and Egyptian civil-military relations, respectively.