As turmoil in the Middle East continues to rise in several countries — including Egypt and Syria — the number of students studying abroad in that region is slowly declining for the UI. The most recent numbers show about half as many students study abroad in the Middle East and near that part of the world from the 2010-11 to the 2011-12 school years. Two years ago, 49 students traveled to the region and neighboring regions; however, last year that number dropped to 26 students.
Even though two years have passed since the start of the Arab Spring, experts on Arab affairs in America are still trying to spread awareness about the revolution.
“The Middle East remains critical, as it is where we spend our biggest amount of money, is the source of lots of our oil, is the place where our main ally [Israel] is, and is a source of terrorism that has affected our shores,” said University of Iowa law Professor Adrien Wing.
University of Iowa courses are expanding to meet an increasing level of student interest as the political atmosphere continues to evolve in the Middle East.
Since 2001, UI political-science professors said there has been a marked increase in enthusiasm for courses related to the Middle East. And with the increase, some professors said, comes a responsibility to accurately present the foreign events in an educational way.
Prior to 2001, the UI Political-Science Department had no Middle Eastern coverage separate from a comparative politics courses, said UI political-science Professor Vicki Hesli.
Over the past couple of years, a number of U.S. universities have set up branch campuses or other extensive satellite ventures (or pulled out of failing ones) particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa: NYU, Michigan State, Texas A&M, and more recently Duke University, just to name a few. Branch campuses can be successful, and meet the needs both of the U.S. institution and of the host country in which the offshore branch is located.
Joan Kjaer will host a WorldCanvass program featuring the Middle East before a live audience from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 7, 2010, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum on the University of Iowa campus. The event is free and open to the public.