Middle East Studies

Middle East Studies Program

The Middle East Studies program has a comprehensive curriculum with course topics ranging from the economies of petrostates to ethno-religious conflict.

Middle East Studies Program

The Middle East Studies program has a comprehensive curriculum with course topics ranging from the economies of petrostates to ethno-religious conflict.

The Middle East Studies Program

The Middle East Studies program has a comprehensive curriculum with course topics ranging from the economies of petrostates to ethno-religious conflict.



 
Honoring Fouad Ajami, SAIS Middle East Studies Director from 1980- 2011


Fouad Ajami came to SAIS from Princeton in 1980 to direct Middle East Studies. His first decade would be fruitful, with the publication of the classic Arab Predicament, followed by a Mac Arthur prize and the publication of a second seminal book, The Vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon, in 1986. Having leaped to the front stage of policy debate from the platform of scholarship, Fouad Ajami produced political writings entangled with the turbulence of the following decade. An idealist, he concluded from the invasion of Kuwait and the Bosnian war that American power should be used to rescue populations at risk. A pragmatist, he looked at the Peace Process as a collective awakening to reality.

In the unusually calm late 1990s, Fouad Ajami returned to the elusive question of Arab modernity with The Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation’s Odyssey. In parallel, he dabbled with skepticism in the then dominant paradigms of globalization, convergence and peace. Commerce alone would not, he suspected, bring about the social and political changes he wished for. History called him again brutally in September 2001. For the next 10 years, his work was associated with the American efforts to reshape the region, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Lebanon. A book traces this journey: The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq. At the end of that tiring road, the Arab Spring bloomed as the apotheosis of the change he had aspired to in his classes and writings.
 
Fouad Ajami left Middle East Studies in 2011 with just 36 months to wrap up his scholarship and cherish his family. Instead of respite, Fouad was drafted as a public defender of the cause of the Syrian rebellion, which unraveled as a metaphor to his own battle with illness. Fouad Ajami is no longer but history continues to rage in the region he helped to illuminate. In a lifetime, Fouad Ajami journeyed from quiet, agrarian Arnoun—to his students the most famous locale of South Lebanon—to the intense metropolitan life of New York City. This theme, transition, bound his personal life to the broader history of the region.
 
For 31 years, Middle East Studies students at SAIS have gotten to know Fouad Ajami in the intimacy of his Thursday morning breakfast seminar. It is there that he tested the thoughts that would find their way into his editorials, it is there that he elaborated on the subtext of his public positions, it is there that he shared for hours on end the anecdotes and personal experiences that had shaped his views of Arab societies. No one knew better the complexity of his thinking, the intimate, passionate, and conflicted relationship he had with the Middle East than the generations of students he taught. Fouad Ajami’s focus on the small, on the micro, disarmed tension about big regional issues. Fouad Ajami was a public intellectual known for public positions, but under his directorship, the Middle East Program has never allowed partisanship. Students learned to be scholars, not militants, and to pay attention to facts and details. There was no “anti-“ in the teachings of Fouad Ajami, no rage, only down to earth pragmatism, a distaste for nonsense, and a keen awareness of the mechanics of history. All of us, his students, are his legacy, and the best tribute to him from us is to continue his effort. Wherever you may be, we hope your work will give you the opportunity to contribute to the region transitioning into a peaceful modernity.

Camille Pecastaing, Acting Director of Middle East Studies

 

 

Ajami's Hometown of Arnoun, Lebanon
 

 

 

Program Description
 
The Middle East Studies Program offers a comprehensive approach to study of the region. It covers topics such as failing states, petrostates, political transitions, economic development, state-to-state conflict and nuclear proliferation, as well as religions, ethnicity and tribalism. Middle East Studies courses take a historical and theoretical approach to study of regional issues and topics. A few courses focus on particular countries, such as Iran and Egypt, but a majority explore broad regional or topical questions. The geographic range spans from Morocco to Iran to Turkey to Somalia.

Recent Photos & Video

Curriculum

 

Middle East Studies | M.A. Requirements

Middle East Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2014-2015
 
Students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 or 14 courses as approved by Academic Affairs.

 

MIDDLE EAST STUDIES (MES)

Students concentrating in Middle East Studies must take at least 6 courses within this program (or the equivalent credit of a total of 6 courses*). One of the 6 courses must be States & Societies of the Middle East and Muslim Africa (SA.860.702). Students must also pass the Middle East History Exam (MEHE)—generally offered in the fall (spring if in Bologna) in their first year. In some cases, a SAIS course that requires a substantive research paper in the Arab World/Broader Middle East, may count toward the requirements as approved by the director. Students should be enrolled in a minimum of one Middle East or approved regional course per semester.
 
*MES offers two-credit courses. Students must combine two, two-credit courses to meet the requirement of one full course.
 
Tracks
Students must select one of the following Middle East Studies tracks:
 
·         Core Middle East (CME): The CME track is designed to train Arabists with a focus on language skills. Of the 6 MES courses, students must also enroll in Powers in the Middle East: Egypt (SA.860.792)—a two-credit course. Only 1 of the 6 courses may be cross listed starting with a prefix other than SA.860.XXX. Students are highly encouraged to take additional Arabic language courses beyond the minimum SAIS graduation requirements.
·         Broader Middle East (BME): The BME track is designed to help students acquire a broader regional perspective and training in comparative politics. Of the 6 MES courses, students must take a minimum of 3 regional courses related to the BME, including offerings from African, European and Eurasian and South Asia Studies and enroll in the equivalent of 2 CME track courses—including a minimum of 2, two-credit CME courses.
·         Energy and Resources (ER): The ER track is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of the energy and resources sector of the Middle East region. Of the 6 MES courses, students must enroll in Energy Markets in the Middle East and Central Asia (SA.860.761), 1 additional CME course and 3 Energy, Resources and Environment courses.
 
Please refer to the Middle East Studies Curriculum for eligible courses that meet track requirements.

 

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS

Students must complete 4 courses within this program.
·         Microeconomics
·         Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
·         International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
 
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Micro and/or Macro in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

 

QUANTITATIVE REASONING

Students must complete one course from the list below.
·         Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
·         Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
·         Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Risk Analysis and Modeling
·         Corporate Finance (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         Quantitative Methods in International Relations (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
 
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.

 

CORE COURSES/EXAMS

All SAIS students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll for credit in the core course(s).
·         American Foreign Policy Since World War II
·         Comparative National Systems
·         Evolution of the International Systems
·         Theories of International Relations

 

LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Middle East Studies MA candidates in the CME Track must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Arabic. Students pursuing the BME or ER track may use Arabic, Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) to meet this requirement. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering SAIS. Native Arabic, Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) speakers must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English.

 

CAPSTONE

Middle East Studies concentrators must produce an MA thesis that involves primary research under the supervision of the Middle East Studies faculty. The paper is written over the two-year period, with an outline and research program due in March of the first year and a working draft of the final thesis to be presented during March of the second year. For those whose final semester is fall, consult the Program Director for due date.

 

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS BY ACADEMIC YEAR

Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010

Curriculum

 

Middle East Studies | M.A. Requirements

Middle East Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2014-2015
 
Students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 or 14 courses as approved by Academic Affairs.

 

MIDDLE EAST STUDIES (MES)

Students concentrating in Middle East Studies must take at least 6 courses within this program (or the equivalent credit of a total of 6 courses*). One of the 6 courses must be States & Societies of the Middle East and Muslim Africa (SA.860.702). Students must also pass the Middle East History Exam (MEHE)—generally offered in the fall (spring if in Bologna) in their first year. In some cases, a SAIS course that requires a substantive research paper in the Arab World/Broader Middle East, may count toward the requirements as approved by the director. Students should be enrolled in a minimum of one Middle East or approved regional course per semester.
 
*MES offers two-credit courses. Students must combine two, two-credit courses to meet the requirement of one full course.
 
Tracks
Students must select one of the following Middle East Studies tracks:
 
·         Core Middle East (CME): The CME track is designed to train Arabists with a focus on language skills. Of the 6 MES courses, students must also enroll in Powers in the Middle East: Egypt (SA.860.792)—a two-credit course. Only 1 of the 6 courses may be cross listed starting with a prefix other than SA.860.XXX. Students are highly encouraged to take additional Arabic language courses beyond the minimum SAIS graduation requirements.
·         Broader Middle East (BME): The BME track is designed to help students acquire a broader regional perspective and training in comparative politics. Of the 6 MES courses, students must take a minimum of 3 regional courses related to the BME, including offerings from African, European and Eurasian and South Asia Studies and enroll in the equivalent of 2 CME track courses—including a minimum of 2, two-credit CME courses.
·         Energy and Resources (ER): The ER track is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of the energy and resources sector of the Middle East region. Of the 6 MES courses, students must enroll in Energy Markets in the Middle East and Central Asia (SA.860.761), 1 additional CME course and 3 Energy, Resources and Environment courses.
 
Please refer to the Middle East Studies Curriculum for eligible courses that meet track requirements.

 

INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS

Students must complete 4 courses within this program.
·         Microeconomics
·         Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
·         International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
 
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Micro and/or Macro in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

 

QUANTITATIVE REASONING

Students must complete one course from the list below.
·         Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
·         Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
·         Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Risk Analysis and Modeling
·         Corporate Finance (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         Quantitative Methods in International Relations (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
 
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.

 

CORE COURSES/EXAMS

All SAIS students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll for credit in the core course(s).
·         American Foreign Policy Since World War II
·         Comparative National Systems
·         Evolution of the International Systems
·         Theories of International Relations

 

LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Middle East Studies MA candidates in the CME Track must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Arabic. Students pursuing the BME or ER track may use Arabic, Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) to meet this requirement. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering SAIS. Native Arabic, Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) speakers must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English.

 

CAPSTONE

Middle East Studies concentrators must produce an MA thesis that involves primary research under the supervision of the Middle East Studies faculty. The paper is written over the two-year period, with an outline and research program due in March of the first year and a working draft of the final thesis to be presented during March of the second year. For those whose final semester is fall, consult the Program Director for due date.

 

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS BY ACADEMIC YEAR

Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010

Waiver Exams

Faculty

Pages

Featured Courses

Middle East Studies is the only program at SAIS that offers six-week (half credit) courses. Most of these six-week courses are country case studies, which allow students to focus in-depth on a specific country in the region and understand its unique history, politics, and current events. The six-week format allows students to gain wider access to Middle East experts in Washington and build their academic and professional network.

Program Activities

 

Language and Internship Resources

First-year students concentrating in Middle East Studies (MES) are encouraged to spend their summer break studying Arabic somewhere in the region and conducting research for their thesis. Traveling in the region also presents the opportunity to make contacts through local internships.

 

MES Lecture Series

The MES Program complements its academic courses with a series of brown bag lectures, bringing in a wide variety of Arab and Israeli scholars, politicians and journalists to discuss and debate a broad range of issues which enlighten students on Middle East issues.

 

Winter Trip

The MES Program has a history of running student-led trips to the region each year over winter intersession. Past trips have been sponsored and funded by the governments of the countries that students visit.

 

Student Activities

The program's student social chair coordinates events for students to get to know one another better and build stronger networks. Activities vary and have included culturally themed dinners, movie nights and student-led presentations on research and travels in the region.

Program Activities: Washington, D.C.

Program Activities: Europe

Program Activities: Nanjing

Events



2014

  1. The Life and Work of Fouad Ajami 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM Nov12

    Camille Pecastaing, acting director Middle East Studies Program; Samuel Tadros, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute; Martin Kramer, president of Shalem College; Afshin Molavi, senior research fellow at the New America Foundation; Leon Wieseltier, literary editor for The New Republic; Michael Mandelbaum, director of the American Foreign Policy Program; and former students and colleagues of Fouad Ajami will discuss his life and contribution to the study of the Middle East. A memorial reception will follow the discussion. Note: RSVP is required.

  2. Israel-Palestine: An Eternal Deadlock? 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Sep15

    Alain Dieckhoff, senior research fellow at Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and lecturer at Sciences Po, will discuss this topic.

  3. Rebuild Afghanistan Summit 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM Mar28

    Various speakers will participate in this summit and Zaid Mohseni, chief operations officer at MOBY Group, will provide the keynote address. For a complete agenda, visit: http://afghansummit.org/content/washington-dc-2014.

  4. 102 Days of War: How Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda & the Taliban Survived 2001 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM Jan27

    Yaniv Barzilai, foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State and a SAIS graduate, will discuss his new book 102 Days of War: How Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda & the Taliban Survived 2001.”

2013

  1. The Future of Political Islam in Egypt Post-Morsi 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM Aug5

    Ahmad Atif Ahmad, professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Jonathan Brown, associate professor of Islam and Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, will discuss this topic.

  2. Political Islam and the Struggle for Democracy in Egypt 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM Apr29

    Nathan Brown, professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and nonresident senior associate in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Program; Michele Dunne, director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East; Ian Lee (via Skype), freelance reporter; and Yassin Sabha, SAIS M.A. student and president of the SAIS Middle East and North Africa Club, will discuss this topic. Note: SAIS will also host a live webcast available here at the time of the event. 

  3. The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Apr19

    Vali Nasr, SAIS dean and author of The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat, will discuss his new book. Note: A reception will immediately follow the lecture. SAIS will also host a live webcast available here at the time of the event. Members of the media should respond to Felisa Neuringer Klubes at the SAIS Communications Office at 202.663.5626 or fklubes@jhu.edu.

  4. A Kingdom’s Future: Saudi Arabia Through the Eyes of Twentysomethings 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Apr3

    Caryle Murphy, author of A Kingdom's Future: Saudi Arabia Through the Eyes of Twentysomethings, will discuss her new book. Note: Lunch will be provided.

  5. Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Reform: State of Play in Jordan and Yemen 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Feb27

    Danya Greenfield, deputy director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, will discuss this topic. Note: This event is open to the SAIS community only.

  6. Understanding Israel’s Elections 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Feb6

Research

Our Alumni

External Resources

Contact Us

Camille Pecastaing
Senior Associate Professor of Middle East Studies

cape@jhu.edu
Rome Building, 7th floor

Rebecca Aman
Program Coordinator

raman2@jhu.edu
202-663-5722
Rome Building, 7th floor

Address & Phone

Middle East Studies
Rome Building
1619 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C.
20036
  • 202-663-5722