In the 2009-2010 school year, the MESP organized a successful teacher training workshop series for the Central New York Council for Social Studies (CNYCSS) sponsored by a UISFL grant. In coordination with Kim O’Neil, the President of CNYCSS, we organized four faculty presentations on various topics related to the Middle East, presenting selected books and handouts to social studies teachers in order to augment their knowledge. The workshops were held either at local schools or at the New York State United Teachers facility in East Syracuse.
During fall semester we held the following two workshops: “How to Understand Arab Culture” led by Rania Habib, Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Coordinator of Arabic Program; and “The Future of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process” led by Miriam Elman, Associate Professor of Political Science. During spring semester we held an additional two workshops: “Understanding Terrorist Organizations in the Middle East” led by Isaac Kfir, a visiting Assistant Professor from the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism; and “Islamic Organizations, Welfare Policies, and Legitimacy in the Middle East” led by Sarah Marusek, Social Science Doctoral Candidate. Be- tween six to fifteen teachers participated in each seminar and received attendance certificates as well as credit toward in-service hours needed for New York State certification requirements.
During each session teachers were able to ask the presenter questions, often leading to a spirited group discussion on the respective topics. The feedback from teachers was excellent, with participants saying they really enjoyed both the presentations and the accompanying readings. The MESP will continue to hold further teacher training workshops throughout 2010-2011.
In addition to these workshops, Sarah Marusek participated in a panel on “Reflections from Abroad on the Obama Presidency” at the annual CNYCSS conference, along with panelists from the East Asia Center, South Asia Center, and Center for European Studies. Around 300 teach- ers from Central New York attended the conference.