International Relations and the Middle East: a Comparative European Perspective
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Area of Study
International Affairs, International Politics, International Relations, International Studies
Taught In English
Course Level Recommendations
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Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4
Hours & Credits
OverviewIn recent years, the Middle East has arguably established itself as the centre of international politics or, at least, as the region that no international actor can afford to stay away from. Why? How did this happen? This course will explore the politics of the plural Middle East from an international perspective, focusing on its features, internal processes, and the main problematic issues, while emphasizing its relationship with the West, itself a plural entity, and especially with Europe and the European Union.
Through a preliminary clarification of the theoretical meaning of some of the basic concepts for political analyses of the Middle East (and by asking: Are they really useful? What do they enable us to explain/understand and what do they not allow us to understand? Are they culturally rooted?), the course aims to enable students to achieve a clear understanding of the main issues that have shaped and are characterizing the politics of the region, its role in contemporary international politics, as well as the strategies available and employed by the main international actors towards it. Finally, it aims to investigate the usefulness and the shortcomings of (?Western?) international relations and political science approaches and concepts to the region, highlighting both the differences and similarities between the Middle East and other political regions.
Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to comfortably employ a number of theoretical tools of political analysis to the study of the region, be familiar with its main current issues, and have gained a good knowledge of its trends and specific features. Lastly, students will be able to assess the effects on the region of the strategies that international powers can deploy towards it.
The first part of the course will consist of lectures. In the second part of the course, and depending on the number of students, each session will be introduced by a student presentation (20-30 minutes), which can be supported by the assigned readings. The issues raised by the presentation and by the essential readings will foster a discussion, which will constitute the bulk of the class. The instructor will then conclude by briefly (10-15 minutes) summarizing the most important points made during the discussion.
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.
ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.
Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.