Examines a topic, theme, problem, or area of the world in order to provide a deeper understanding of an aspect of Global Studies.
Spring 2014 BISGST 397 A Topics in Global Studies: Politics of the Middle East and North Africa (5 CR, TTH 5:45PM-7:45pm)
This course offers an introduction to the politics and social history of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). To begin with, the course offers a critical appraisal of the ways of imagining, thinking and learning about the region that have been common in the West. It continues with a historical overview of Islam and the politics of the region. Finally, it offers an in-depth examination of a number of issues experienced by the people of MENA. These include problems associated with economic development and democratization, human rights, international conflict and war, Islam and politics, the status of women and United States foreign policy towards the region. At the end, it is hoped that students will acquire the analytical skills necessary for challenging resilient stereotypes about the region, and for independently making sense of historical and contemporary problems in MENA. The course is not limited to a mere description of issues and themes associated with the international relations of the Middle East. Rather, we will be constantly challenging the ways we are accustomed to thinking about politics on the world stage. Through comparing and contrasting various analytical perspectives the course aims to encourage students to think critically about the international relations of the region. At a minimum this involves distinguishing among various arguments and modes of analysis, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different explanations, and ultimately developing our own independent perspective on various problems encountered in the region.
Student learning goals
• Understand key concepts and issues in the discipline of political science, and effectively communicate these both verbally and in writing
• Understand and critically appraise various perspectives on th politics and history of the region
• Critically assess media and popular discourse on politics, and engage in independent assessment of political issues
• To locate and access information about politics, and take an active role in your own ongoing education
General method of instruction
This course are designed to encourage maximum independent thinking and critical analysis of the politics and history. To this end, the instructor will discuss material assigned for each session, identify key issues and events, and offer insights into various ways of analyzing issues in politics and history. Lectures will typically go considerably beyond the assigned readings therefore it is imperative that students take excellent notes and ask questions when clarification is needed. Furthermore, much of class time will be devoted to student discussion of issues raised in the readings and lectures. All students are expected to arrive in class having read the material assigned for that day, and prepared to participate in classroom discussions. In this class you will be responsible for your own and your peers’ learning. The instructor’s role in the class will be to encourage you to learn, to assist you in expanding your ability to think independently, to critique what you read, to assist you in writing thoughtful papers, and to encourage well-informed dialogue.
Class assignments and grading
Assessmet will be based on a combination of map test, reflection essays, exams, group projects and participation.