NEW STUDY ABROAD COURSE: DEMOCRACY IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD


Recent events in the Middle East—including the protests over an anti-Islam video—raise questions about American standing in the region and about the future of the Arab societies that are making the transition to new forms of democratic governance.

These issues were explored this summer as part of a new program offered at the SU Abroad Center at Bahçesehir University in Istanbul. The six-credit program was offered by Professor Daniel Heradstveit (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Oslo), who discussed the rhetori- cal strategies used by leaders in the Middle East to maintain power; Professor Mehrzad Boroujerdi (Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program), who focused on the Arab Spring; and Professor Matt Bonham (Co-Director of the Syracuse Public Diplomacy Program), who described the role of the United States in supporting Arab democracy after the revolution in Tunisia.

With the program’s location in Turkey, SU students had the opportunities to meet Bahçese- hir students who were taking the course and to participate in lively discussions about the future of democracy in the Middle East. They were also able to work with faculty members from Bahçesehir, who held seminars on Turkey as a role model for democracy, the changing relationship between Turkey and the United States, Turkey’s bid to join the EU, and about human rights in Turkey.

Students enjoyed living in Istanbul, with its important history, rich culture, beautiful Byzan- tine and Ottoman architecture—including mosques and churches—and ethnically diverse popula- tion of over 13 million people.

Another unique feature of the program was the use of Facebook to prepare students for the course work and provide a space for them to post articles, pictures, and impressions. The Facebook page opened in November 2011 and continues to provide a source of information and exchange for anyone interested in the program. The faculty plan to continue the Facebook page and offer the program next summer, beginning in the middle of June for four weeks.