The Middle East studies program is a four-week interdisciplinary program consisting of a number of courses in humanities and social sciences. The opportunity of participating in this intensive study of the region’s history and culture is open to all foreign exchange students studying at MIU. The variety of courses presents a comprehensive overview of the potentials and challenges of the region. This program helps students gain deeper insight towards an overall understanding of the Middle East region.
Aims & Objectives
This program is designed to promote multicultural communication by broadening students’ understanding of the Middle East societies and cultures in order to bridge the gap between people from different cultures and religions. It acquaints students with the dilemmas in this region and encourages them to express their opinions in this regard and use their skills to research problems in a Middle Eastern context.
Upon completion of the course students should be able to:
- Exchange experience with people from different cultural backgrounds.
- Critically judge the false images and the misconceptions about the Middle East region and the Arab Societies.
- Define the historical and cultural heritage of the Middle East in general and Egypt in particular.
- Identify the challenges facing the Arab world at the political, economic, religious and social levels.
- Communicate with people from another culture by studying a foreign language (Arabic).
- Identify the ongoing regional conflicts and the current attempts to achieve peace in the Middle East.
- Apply the skills of inquiry and research to specific problems in the Middle East.
- Identify the opposing trends and viewpoints in the region towards the current political, economic, religions and social key issues.
- Critically analyze the influence of foreign cultures on the culture of the Middle East region.
- Identify the history of Christian, Muslim and Jewish relations in the region.
- Analyze the impact of past social and political experiences of the region on its present.
The Middle East studies program offers courses from a variety of disciplines to provide students with comprehensive understanding of the Middle East. A students may choose two of the following courses.
- Arabic as a Foreign Language
- Ancient Civilizations in the Middle East.
- Ancient Egyptian Architecture.
- History of Islamic Architecture
- Arab Societies
- Economic Development in the Middle East
- Middle East Politics
- Contemporary Issues
- History of Modern Egypt
- Contemporary Arabic Literature
- Oriental Music
- History of Islamic Egypt
Arabic as a Foreign Language
This course offers students interested in studying the Arabic language a chance to learn spoken colloquial Egyptian Arabic as well as written classical Arabic.
Arabic as a Foreign Language (Level I)
This course covers the basics in first-year Arabic; study of the alphabet, sounds, and writing style, basic grammatical structures and vocabulary. Students will read and write short excerpts on various real-life situations. The focus is on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), however, Egyptian colloquial is integrated into classroom activities whenever possible.
Arabic as a Foreign Language (Level II)
This course is designed to expand upon the grammatical and syntactical structures acquired in Level I which are necessary for reading basic forms of Arabic. Students will work with samples of newspaper excerpts, short stories, and descriptive narratives. The focus is on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), however, Egyptian colloquial is integrated into classroom activities whenever possible.
Arabic as a foreign Language (Level III)
This course is designed to build upon skills developed in earlier courses. Students will acquire advanced proficiency in Arabic in general and spoken Arabic in particular. This course focuses on developing conversational, listening, reading and writing skills. Emphasis is also placed on writing short essays, using a broader range of regular and irregular verbs. The course integrates both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and colloquial Egyptian Arabic.
Ancient Civilizations in the Middle East
This course is an introduction to the cultural and social history of the Ancient civilizations in the Middle East, including, the major civilizations in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean Region. The course tackles how societies evolved from primitive communities to more advanced civilizations, as well as the main contributions of those civilizations to humanity, and the reasons why these conversations collapsed. Students will have a critical understanding of the main aspects of these ancient civilizations and how many of these aspects continue to remain relevant in the region today. Special attention is paid to the ancient Egyptian civilization and the role of science and religion in the life of ancient Egyptians. Field trips to ancient Egyptian monuments are an integral part of the course.
Ancient Egyptian Architecture
This course is a general survey of ancient Egyptian architecture, from the pre-dynastic era up until the Greco-Roman Period, focusing on the fundamental principles of Egyptian Architecture as seen in various temples and tombs. Through analysis of sacred aspects and the symbolism manifested in these structures, students will learn how ancient Egyptian architecture reflected the belief system and the values of the civilization.
History of Islamic Architecture
This course surveys the architectural and the decorative expressions of the various regions in which Islam took root during the Umayyad, Abbasid, Andalusian, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluke and Ottoman eras. The course focuses on central concepts of Islamic architecture, as exhibited in mosques and madrasas, such as sacred space, figural representation, and the role of geometry and calligraphy. Students will develop critical understanding of the ritual function and symbolism in Islamic architectural structures, and a deeper appreciation of its major themes and concepts. Field trips to local monuments from these eras are integral to the course.
Religion and Politics in the Middle East
This course gives an overview of the interaction between religion, and more particularly Islam, and politics in the contemporary Middle East. It analyses the dynamic and struggle between faith and power in the region for self-definition and identity, focusing on the major religious-oriented political movements and parties in the last fifty years.
This course provides an in-depth analysis of the social, cultural, economic, and ideological characteristics of contemporary Arab societies. Students will research and analyze the contemporary problems and challenges that face the Arab world including unity, gender and democracy and how society in the region is addressing these issues. By the end of the course, students are required to organize a Model Arab League simulation which utilizes the knowledge they have gained and reflects their critical understanding of the interplay of religious, social and political factors which influence Arab society today.
Economic Development in Middle East
This course explores the challenges, obstacles, and prospects for the economic development of different countries in the Middle East region. Students will develop a thorough understanding of how the interaction of social, economic and political factors have affected and continue to affect the growth prospects of various countries within the region. Students will conduct comparative examination of economic development in the Middle East to better understand why some Middle East countries succeeded in implementing economic and political reforms, while other countries failed.
Middle East Politics
This course provides an in-depth examination of the nature and dynamics of Middle East politics since the second half of the 20th century. The course focuses on major issues that shaped the political landscape such as the political transformation towards democracy, security crisis due to terrorists attacks launched by fundamentalist militant organizations as well as inter and intra Arab conflicts. Students will develop critical understanding of how these factors have influenced policy-making and the current state of affairs.
Modernization of the Middle East
This course investigates the process and approaches of modernization within the societies of the Middle East. The course analyzes the economic and social factors affecting the process as well as the obstacles facing the countries of the region. Students will have a critical understanding of the effects of western modernization on the Middle East countries. The experience of Mohamed Ali in Egypt is among the case studies covered in the course.
This course explores a select number of social, political and cultural issues of debate in the Arab world today. Topics discussed could include globalization, cultural identity, information, biotechnology ethics, human security, electronic democracy and the role of NGO's in the development of Arab societies. Students will develop a broader understanding of the issues which are widely debated in Arab societies.
History of Modern Egypt
This course covers the history of Egypt from the Ottoman conquest (16th century) to the 25th of January revolution (2011). Specifically, the course will explore Egypt’s social transformation, French and British colonial experiences, the development of nationalism and pan-Arabism and Egypt's wars with Israel. Through this course students will develop in-depth understanding of the internal and external, historical, economic, and ideological forces which helped shape the Egypt of today.
Contemporary Arabic Literature
This course focuses on the study of contemporary Arabic literature, poetry and novel covering the different forces and factors that affected the development of Arabic literature. Students will be introduced to a variety of significant literary works by the most prominent writers of the period such as Tawfiq al- Hakim, Naguib Mahfouz, Yusuf Idris, Ibrahim Aslan. Students will critically analyze how political and socio-economic changes in the region are reflected in this literature.
Oriental Art & Music
This course explores oriental art and music as modes of expressing the cultural identity of the Middle East countries. It highlights the cultural attitudes of Middle Eastern people and how they are expressed in a wide range of artistic modes including theater, dance, film, painting, woodworks, sculpture and architecture. Part of the course focuses on oriental music. Aspects such as instruments, forms, styles and performance techniques are discussed. This part introduces students to the system of melodic modes “Maqam” and offers students the chance to learn to play the Arab musical instruments of the oriental orchestra “Takht”.
Students are allowed to add or drop any course within the first two days of the program.
Various methods of assessment are used to evaluate students’ academic performance and to see how well the students are meeting the goals of the program. These methods intend to motivate students to become more reflective learners, stimulate discussions and enhance their ability to think critically about the course content. The assessment can be in the form of research work, quizzes, presentations and field study. The type of the assignment and the grade distribution are decided by the nature of each course.
Upon fulfilling the academic requirements of the course(s), students receive an accredited certificate from MIU.
Activities are an integral part of the Middle East Studies Program.They consist of a wild range of academic and non-academic activities including field trips, on campus cultural events and recreational trips during weekends to historical places and the best resorts in Egypt. The objective of these activities is to expose students to the Egyptian social context in ways that go beyond classroom learning to help them identify the real essence of this unique society.