Approved by Faculty Senate

Department of Political Science

P.S. 270 Politics and Society in the Middle East


Year and Semester Professor Office Location Office Hours Telephone and Fax E-Mail
Spring, 2001 Dr. Ahmed El-Afandi 119 Minne
1:00 - 2:30 MW
or by appointment



Course Focus Instructional Plan Attendance Course Requirements
Book Report Textbooks Assignments Bibliography


Course Outline Results Extra Credit Academic Integrity Writing Your Report


1. Major Focus and Objectives

This course meets both the different culture requirements of the General Education program and the Multicultural Perspective under the University Studies Program, as well as the major requirements for the Department of Political Science majors and minor. As a course that meets the Multicultural Perspective requirement, this course is designed to give the student an appreciation of the prevailing political systems in selected Middle Eastern countries. The course will present common regional issues and emphasize how these issues apply to certain countries.  Particular emphasis will be placed on the following phenomena: importance and role of geographic and climatic conditions on the way of life; religion as a way of life; conflicts and compromises between traditional and modern political values; Arab-Israeli relations, oil and social, political and economic development, as well as conflict resolution between and among the region’s states. Middle Eastern relations with the rest of the world will be surveyed. In the discussion of the role of religion on daily lives, particular attention will be given to Islam, [Please consult the following URLs,, ] the religion of the vast majority of the people in the area; Orthodox Christianity, [Please consult the following URLs,, ] the most widely adopted belief among Christians in the region; and Judaism, [Please consult the following URLs,] the oldest Middle Eastern monotheistic religion.


Since most of the students are unfamiliar with the cultures, traditions and languages spoken in the Middle East, students will be expected to learn to tolerate the cultural differences. They will need to familiarize themselves with some of the words and names that are commonly used in daily lives and in the literature. To gain such tolerance and familiarity, students will be expected to expand their knowledge of the region by reading at least one daily newspaper and news media.  Most of the newspapers and news media can be accessed on their web sites.  Some of them are as follows: , ,,,,,,,,,, .  Contacting and conversing with students from that region, and reading relevant material in the library and other sources are essential means of interacting with the course.

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University Studies Outcomes:

a. Demonstrate knowledge of diverse patterns and similarities of thought, values, and beliefs as manifest in different cultures;
b. Understand the extent to which cultural differences influence the interpretation and expression of events, ideas and experiences;
c. Understand the extent to which cultural differences influence the interactions between individuals and/or groups;
d. Examine different cultures through their various expressions;
e. Possess the skills necessary for interaction with someone from a different culture or cultural group.

Students who complete this course are expected to have attained the following outcomes:

a. Demonstrate knowledge of diverse patterns and similarities of thought, values, and beliefs as manifest in different cultures;
b. Understand the extent to which cultural differences influence the interpretation and expression of events, ideas and experiences;
c. Understand the extent to which cultural differences influence the interactions between individuals and/or groups;
d. Possess the skills necessary for interaction with someone from a different culture or cultural group.


2. Instructional Plan and Expectations of Students:


Expectations of students:

Students are expected to:

    1. Do the assigned readings and come to class prepared;
    2. Take examinations and hand in assignments at the designated times;
    3. Participate in class discussions by offering opinions and raising issues for discussion;
    4. Take responsibility for their learning process by consulting with the professor regarding any unclear issues and any difficulties they might have in the course. The professor is not a mind reader. He has no way of knowing what difficulties students might be having if they are not brought to his attention.
    5. Attend class regularly and be prompt in their attendance. To fully participate in the class and gain the expected insights, students should make every effort to be present in every class period not only physically but also mentally.
    6. Check the Course Outline files for readings above and beyond the assigned textbooks.  The course outline can be found at: 

Expectations of professor:

The professor is expected to:

    1. Be present during class periods, but if he must miss one or more class periods to inform the students in advance, whenever possible;
    2. To come to class prepared and to present the material in a clear and concise manner that helps students comprehend the topics;
    3. Communicate with the students at their level of comprehension;
    4. Explain issues by different ways and means that enable the greatest comprehension of the material;
    5. Foster student enthusiasm and interest in the topic;
    6. Be accessible to students in and outside the classroom;
    7. Show even handedness and impartiality between the students, and offer no favoritism;
    8. Evaluate students’ performance objectively on the basis of its quality, not on the basis of whether or not their views agree with his;
    9. Provide students with feedback on their assigned tasks in a timely and constructive manner;
    10. Not act as a substitute for the students’ efforts to gain knowledge;
    11. Help build self-confidence in students by encouraging and guiding students to find solutions for their problems, but to not solve the students’ problems for them.

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While there is no mandatory attendance policy in the University, students will discover that their level of interest in a subject matter will decline with frequent absenteeism. It is strongly suggested that absenteeism be held to a bare minimum.  Unless there is a truly valid excuse, you should plan to be in class every time it meets.

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4. Course Requirements

A.    Two exams and a final (multiple choice and short essay     combinations) (25% each)
B.    One extensive book report (25%)
C.    Class participation

Students' grades will be posted on this web site and can be checked by clicking Results, above, or through: 

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5. Book Report bulletStudents are required to submit one extensive book report containing a summary and critical analysis of John L. Esposito’s book, The Islamic Threat. The book report should be at least five and no more than seven double-spaced pages. The book report is due no later than April 3. It may be submitted earlier than this date. bulletExcept in documented medical or family emergencies, no work will be accepted past the due date. bulletThe book report shall contain an analysis of relevant social, economic and political conditions in the society as covered by the book. Students may find it useful to refer to other sources for additional information and insight into those aspects as they prepare for writing their reports. Students who wish to get an A or a B on their book report must use outside reading material. Those who use outside material must refer to their sources of information in the body of the paper and in a bibliography. Encyclopedias, religious sources and other similar material as well as material supplied in class and available to all students may not be considered for the purposes of this requirement to be outside sources. The use of outside sources does not guarantee an A or a B, but you cannot receive one of these grades without using outside sources. bulletThe final draft must be well-documented and clear of grammatical and spelling errors. You are encouraged to use the Writing Lab and other sources in the University to help enhance the quality of the paper. The instructor will also be available for advice throughout the course of the semester. Do not hesitate to use all available facilities. bulletStudents are encouraged to use the Writing Lab, located on the third floor of Minne Hall, as well as the Student Support Services, located in Phelps Hall, for the purpose of refining their writing styles and cleaning up their product. bulletUp to one full letter grade will be deducted from written work for problems such as improper spelling, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, punctuation errors, misuse or non-use of apostrophes, and typographical errors. You are expected to carefully proofread your written work in order to eliminate any such problems. You are encouraged to use Spell-Checker or other word processing software, but urged not to become dependent upon it nor see it as a substitute for a careful, human proofreading. Most of these computer programs cannot catch frequently misused words such as: "to" "two" and "too"; "there" "they're" and "their"; "could've" and "could of"; "it's" and "its". You are advised to double check for any such errors. When in doubt, LOOK IT UP.

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6. Textbooks

Congressional Quarterly, The Middle East. 9th ed. Washington, D. C.: CQ Press. 2000. ISBN 1-56802-100-3

Esposito, John L., The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. 1999. ISBN 0-19-513076-6

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7. Weekly Assignments

Weeks Topic Expected Outcomes Reading Assignment Exam

Week 1-5

Background and Introduction
Geographic Factors
Cultural Factors
Ethnic Factors
Historical Relations
Resources and Economics
Islam, the Religion: sources and rules
Islam and Muslims
Women and Men in Islam





A, B, C, D, E


Islam - Internet Posting
Video tape
The Middle East, Chs. 1, 6; The Islamic Threat, Entire book


First Exam:  Feb. 8, 2001

Weeks 6-10 Israel
Arab/Israeli Relations


A, B, C, D, E

The Middle East. Chs. 2, 3, pp. 265-298
Judaism - Internet Posting
Video tape
Second Exam: March 15, 2001
Weeks 11-15 Egypt
Iran/Iraq relations
Saudi Arabia
Gulf States


A, B, C, D, E

The Middle East, Chs. 4, 5, pp. 219-264, 299-330, 343-392 Final Exam: 1:00 - 3:00 May 2, 2001

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8. Bibliography

See bibliographical list in your textbooks.  Additional readings can be found on the recommended readings page.

For periodicals related to the field of Political Science, use the following URL to link:

For official government documents, use the following URL to link:

For additional readings: See list in different file

For readings on current events: See this file

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