Current Issues in the Middle East

New content each term…
Current Issues in the Middle East
5 sessions, 10 hours

The Middle East today is at a crossroads, battered by a degree of uncertainty not seen since the fall of the Ottoman Empire one hundred years ago. As a new US Administration assumes control of both domestic and external affairs, the uncertainty grows. What will be the likely course of US foreign policy in the region and how will possible changes in established policy effect the strategic alliances that have long underscored political/economic/and military multilateral relationships? Focusing on the shifting landscape that characterizes the region in the 21st century, this course will attempt to bring clarity to some of the most intractable issues of our time. While the objective of “Current Issues” is to focus on breaking news and recent events as they unfold in the Middle East, among the topics considered for the new term are the continued disintegration and massive humanitarian consequences in the failed states of Syria, Yemen, and Libya, the shifting of political alliances (including the re-emergence of Russian influence in the region), growing authoritarianism in the Turkish republic, the future of Kurdish nationalism, prospects for a Palestinian-Israeli modus vivendi, and the continued battle for regional hegemony between Iran and Saudi Arabia. During these five, short sessions we will endeavor to shed light on a variety of select themes and issues confronting the peoples of this beleaguered, but all-important, region through historical perspective, personal anecdotes, and expert analysis. Incorporating traditional classroom techniques, selected readings, films, guest speakers, and group discussion, the instructor will attempt to bring some degree of clarity to the back stories behind today’s headlines in an area of the world that continues to mystify even the most astute observer.

About the Series: Middle Eastern Studies — History, Culture, Current Events
In this series of short, discussion-oriented courses, Middle East scholar Linda Pappas Funsch offers a greater understanding of the region and its people. Explore the history and culture of the Middle East behind today’s headlines through discussion, readings, and guest speakers. Without tests, grades, or homework, participants are expected only to bring an intellectual curiosity to the classroom for the purpose of unraveling the mysteries of this dynamic region.


Instructor: Linda Pappas Funsch is a specialist in modern Middle East studies and Islamic history. With a MA degree in Near Eastern Studies from New York University, she has studied, worked, and traveled extensively throughout the region. A freelance writer and consultant, she has taught at both Hood College and Mount Saint Mary’s University. She is featured frequently at scholarly symposia throughout the Washington, DC area, including The World Bank, the World Affairs Council, Georgetown University, and the National Council on US-Arab Relations. Ms. Funsch has led two ILR-sponsored study visits to the Middle East region, including Egypt (2008) and Morocco (2013). Look for Linda’s book, Oman Reborn – Balancing Tradition and Modernization from Palgrave Macmillan.

SEN473 Current Issues in the Middle East
4-digit #: 3591
Weds.,1:30 pm – 3:30 pm, April 5 – May 10
Location: Student Center – H Building/ H202-203
Tuition: $40  Fee: $99  Total: $139
MD residents age 60+ pay fee only: $99

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