“BEING THE POST-DOC: MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE MESP” by Joshua Stacher
My experience as the Middle Eastern Studies Program’s first post-doctoral fellow was challenging, rewarding, and unforgettable. In addition to the dramatic change of moving to Syracuse from Cairo, becoming reinitiated with the norms and understanding of political science in the United States made for an excessively steep learning curve. Thankfully, the mentorship of Professor Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Steve Lux, Bill Sullivan, and my many friendly colleagues at the Moynihan Institute, PARC, the Executive Education Program, and the Political Science Department helped ease the transition. Whether working to plan December’s Cairo workshop for the first class of the Leaders for Democracy Fellows or reviewing documentation for Middle East Studies to become a full undergraduate major, each week provided a fresh opportunity to support the growing Moynihan Institute. My activities were further complimented by the demands of being on the job market during the fall and designing a new course for the MESP for the spring semester.
The highlight of my academic year was interacting with and teaching the many talented students interested in Middle Eastern Studies during the spring term. The students in our International Relations of the Middle East course continuously and routinely proved to be serious, engaging, and willing to challenge themselves in order to understand the structured complexity of the region’s politics.
It is with both excitement and trepidation that I leave SU to take a job as an assistant professor of political science at Kent State University. As I reflect on my personal and professional growth while at Syracuse, I can see the fruits of our labor. After all, we benefited not merely from the formal work that we undertook in the construction of the program’s future, but from the informal chats, the lectures we attended, the debates about competing ideas, and the lasting friendships that we made in the process. Although I will not be physically present in September, I intend to maintain a close affiliation with my colleagues and continue to consult with them about the program’s development. I am now just one more person that sees the writing on the wall. The Middle Eastern Studies Program at SU will continue to develop as an international center for excellence in the field. From my privileged vantage point of being the program’s first post-doc, I am extremely certain of it.