Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Concentrations at SAIS: Middle East Studies

Photo taken in Morocco
by Nicolo' Lanciotti BC11/DC12
The Middle East Studies Program offers a comprehensive approach to the study of the region. It covers topics such as failing states, 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 most explore broad regional or topical questions. The geographic range spans from Morocco to Iran to Turkey to Somalia.

Students at SAIS Europe have the opportunity to learn Arabic while taking courses such as Twin Pillars of the Gulf, Political Leadership of the Middle East, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 

This semester alone, SAIS Europe has hosted lectures on the region by Anis Nacour, Chargé d'Affaires, European Union Delegation to Syria and Gary Sick, former White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.

SAIS Europe’s close proximity to the Middle East provides students with the option of learning about the region through first-hand experience. In past years, students in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict course have traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories with Professor Del Sarto. Here is a post on the trip.

This past weekend, a group of students traveled to Morocco, while plans are in the works for some students to travel to Egypt, Turkey, and Israel during Winter Break.

For further exposure to the Middle East, SAIS Europe students can participate in the Arabic Language and Food Club. The club was started by four students from various concentrations because of a large demand for more opportunities to learn about the region's culture, food, and music.

Below, Samine Joudat, an M.A. student at SAIS Europe concentrating in Middle East Studies, discusses why he chose his concentration:

The Middle East Studies program at SAIS is amazing in both breadth and rigor. I was initially an American Foreign Policy student, but was convinced to change when I saw the value of our MES program. 

The hiring of Middle East expert Vali Nasr as the Dean coupled with the ongoing events in the Middle East has made the MES program a huge focus at SAIS. 

The professors, the range of classes, the rigor of the requirements in both history and current issues, alongside SAIS's outstanding language program (where you can learn Farsi or Arabic) make the MES one of the best in the IR community.

Chelsea Boorman
SAIS Europe 2015

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Catching Up: Midterms and Life Beyond Studying

The first application deadline for Fall 2015 admission to SAIS is Saturday, November 15

On November 28, there will be an Open Day. If you are near Bologna, do consider coming to visit us. Open Day is a great way to an insight into SAIS and SAIS Europe.

Below, Chelsea Boorman, tells us what has been going on at SAIS Europe lately.

A lot has happened at SAIS Europe over the last couple of weeks.

Mid-terms are almost behind us. All of us students have been busy reviewing material and forming study groups to get through the papers and exams in economics, core and elective courses and languages.

It's nice to experience first-hand that in times of stress, the SAIS Europe community collaborates to help each other get through the tough times.

In the midst of these hectic two weeks, I realized that life is about balance; in grad school, it's about finding a balance between academics and extra-curricular activities.

In that spirit, here's a taste of what we've been doing apart from studying:

Celebrating Halloween

A group of SAIS Europe students organized a fantastic Halloween party to the theme of Dante's Inferno in Palazzo Gnudi, a former palace in Bologna dating to the 1600s. Students dressed as butchers, murderers, pieces of fruit, farm animals, local Bolognesi and pop-culture/historical figures according to Dante's circles of hell, and then competed for eternal glory in a costume contest judged by Director Michael Plummer and Professors Erik Jones and Marco Cesa. 

Photo by Maximilian Beck
Photo by Maximilian Beck
Photo by Maximilian Beck

Club Fair

Students attended the Student Government Association's Club Fair in October in hopes of honing or developing a new passion. A sampling of the clubs included: the South Asian Cultural Club, Cities & Development Group, Running and Cycling Clubs, Gastrodiplomacy, and Careers in Consulting.

Photo by Grace West

Lectures by BIPR

The Bologna Institute for Policy Research hosted some very interesting lectures in the past few weeks. These included talks by Professor David Ellwood on "Power, Modernity and Identity in Bologna: From the Cold War to Eataly" and Jane Puglierin, Program Officer for the German Council on Foreign Relations, on "NATO and the Ukranian Crisis."

Weekend Trips

We are in Italy, after all. Some SAIS students took advantage of our location and took a weekend trip to Mantua where they indulged in the fall colors, fruit markets, pumpkin ravioli, and the welcoming Italian people. Rumors are that some students are traveling to San Marino, Morocco, and Bucharest next weekend...

Photo by Anthony Gonzalez

Chelsea Boorman
(SAIS Europe 2015)