Unraveling the Middle East

Fall 2019
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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The popular uprisings in the Middle East that began in 2011, often referred to as the “Arab Spring,” sought to create a new order in the region in which democratic accountability, economic justice and dignity replaced dictatorship, economic corruption and police brutality.  Despite some successes, the regional order has since spiraled into a catastrophic series of civil wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen, which have produced massive outflows of refugees to Europe, and seen the rise of a new authoritarian order backed by Saudi Arabia and wealthy oil regimes, with support from the United States. 


This program will seek to understand why this has happened by exploring the scholarly literature about the causes of this new unraveling of the regional order.  Students will learn about the Arab uprisings, the causes of the civil war in Syria and the resulting refugee crisis, the rise of ISIS and sectarian violence, the catastrophic war in Yemen and the new political economy in the region that favors elites over popular social needs.  The program will be organized around a series of texts, exercises and assignments, including several in-class presentations and several analytical papers, in class exams and a final research project. We will watch films and documentaries to supplement our learning. A serious commitment by students to all of the work within the program is necessary for full credit.



Fall 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16): 10267

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies and careers in

Government and politics; international politics; cross-cultural relations

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 A2109 - Seminar