Contours of the Middle East

Investigate a dynamic region.

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Contours of the Middle East exposes students to a broad and balanced range of the socio-economic, political, and cultural developments that are transforming the region today. Change is vibrant, but uneven across the region. Issues that framed the debate in the past such as the Arab-Israeli Dispute, while no less important, are frequently being replaced on the agenda by issues more important to the new power centers that have emerged in the Gulf of Arabia. As well, the growing role of China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, and the disengagement by the U.S. in the broader region will be explored.

Contours features a series of topical discussions that will include presentations by practitioners with expertise in their fields. Students will be asked to read background articles and studies for each session, as well as volunteer to help organize and shape the debate. In addition, students will participate in a wargame simulation at the conclusion of the program.

In spring 2023, the program will include the opportunity to travel to the Middle East for an immersive educational trip, featuring briefings with government officials, cultural experiences, and on-site conversations about key issues discussed throughout the year.

Students with existing study experience and background in the broad geopolitical, historic, and economic trends that have shaped the Middle East region are especially encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to students who can commit to attending all components, and participation is essential to the successful completion of the program.

The program is led by Danny Sebright, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs who has served for decades in the public and private sectors.

Contours Schedule

The following schedule provides a tentative outline of the program. We appreciate your flexibility as some changes to the schedule may be necessary as additional opportunities and conflicts arise. Attendance is required at all sessions below.

Fall 2022

  • Saturday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – Introduction (Glatfelter 203)
  • Saturday, Oct. 1, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – Israel and the Palestinians (CUB 208)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 12, 6-8 p.m. – Israel and the Arabs (Glatfelter 203)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26, 6-8 p.m. – A New Middle East: The Abraham Accords (CUB 208)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, 8:30-11 a.m. – Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference: Opening Session (Virtual)
  • Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – The Gulf States and Iraq: Part One (CUB 208)

Spring 2023

  • Wednesday, Jan. 18, 6-8 p.m. – The Gulf States and the New Order: Part Two (CUB 208)
  • Saturday, Feb. 4, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – Iran and Assignment of War Game Simulation (CUB 208)
  • Wednesday, Feb. 15, 6-8 p.m. – Play of War Game Simulation (CUB 208)
  • Wednesday, March 1, 6-8 p.m. – Jordan/Egypt and Pre-Trip Planning Session (CUB 208)
  • March 4-12 – Middle East Trip
  • Wednesday, April 5, 6-8 p.m. – Additional Session (CUB 208)
  • Wednesday, April 19, 6-8 p.m. – Last Class/Wrap Up/Feedback and Dinner