Major piece of the Middle East

Jared Blankenship and Jared Blankenship

With Saddam Hussein on trial, Bin Laden still at large and more than 2,000 U.S. troops dead in Iraq, the time is ripe for a new Middle East studies program to begin.

Courses in Middle East Studies, part of a newly-proposed major, will be offered in Spring 2006. The new major will explore the culture, politics and language of the region, where students can take on hot-button issues in a historical context.

Assistant Professor Dr. Manoutchehr Eskandari said the Middle East Studies program was developed because “we are so engaged with the Middle East that it would be irresponsible not to have a vehicle through which students can educate themselves.”

The classes will also serve as a forum where students can “answer questions about some of the root causes of our problems in the Middle East,” Eskandari said.

City College students also have the chance to study the Middle East through a semester abroad in Spring 2007, which will take students to Istanbul and Greece. Eskandari said he’s excited about the opportunity for students to travel to Istanbul and study the history of the Ottoman Empire first hand. In Greece, students will learn about the foundations of western civilization at one of its primary centers of origin.

The cost of the trip has not yet been set, but it will be comparable to most other study abroad programs, said Eskandari.

The new courses offered at City College will include two Beginning Modern Standard Arabic classes. Growing prominence of middle-eastern countries in the world market and news has made basic understanding of Arabic essential to many jobs.

Eskandari said that British and French troops have had an advantage in military engagements in the Middle East because of their Arabic language skills.

Courses in Islamic art and architecture will be offered alongside a Sacred Literature course to educate students on the cultural norms and idiosyncrasies of the region.

A new course in middle-eastern politics and government offers a look at the structure of governments that are taking center stage as the U.S. government fights its war on terrorism in Iraq.

Comparative Politics will compare political systems from the Middle East and the west compare and focus on how they relate to one another. Combined with a History of the Modern Middle East course, students have the opportunity to gain new insight into the rich history of the region and about presence of the U.S. Military in the Middle East.

The Middle East Studies major and its courses will be ready for University of California and California State University transfer by fall of 2006.