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Middle East Studies

Interconnected Learning Opportunities


Overview   |   Meet an Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Courses  

Earlham has a rich and long-standing connection to the Middle East, including the distinguished peacemaking efforts in the region by our former college president Landrum Bolling, our past study abroad program in Jerusalem and our continuing relationship with the Ramallah Friends School. With support from the Mellon Foundation and others, Earlham offers an interdisciplinary set of courses focused on the Middle East, both on and off campus.

Courses in Religion, Politics, History, Music, Arabic language, and more educate students to understand the modern Middle East in its historical, cultural and religious complexity and in practical terms, both broadly and through in-depth study of particular regions, themes and cultural practices. These course offerings form an interconnected web of learning opportunities about the region.

The Arabic language courses combine Modern Standard and Levantine colloquial Arabic. This model enables students to engage verbally with the local population in our study site in Jordan and with Arabic speakers on campus. In addition, it provides them with instruction in the written language common to the Arabic-speaking world.

Our current off-campus study program, based in Amman, Jordan, introduces students to the diversity, commonalities and trends that shape the modern Middle East. Through a focus on civil society, contemporary religion, conflict resolution and language, program participants grapple with the complexities of the region.

Students wishing to pursue an academic focus in Middle East Studies may do so in a variety of ways:

  • Arabic may serve as one of the focus languages for a Comparative Languages and Linguistics major.
  • The Middle East may be one of the two required geographic areas for a History major.
  • The Middle East may be the geographic focus region for an International Studies major.
  • A student may complete a Politics, Religion, or Sociology/Anthropology major by including supportive interdisciplinary coursework with a Middle East focus.
  • A student may also design an independent, self-designed major or minor in Middle East Studies.
Meet An Earlhamite
Alejandra Traslosheros Reyes
Justice Driven

Growing up in four different countries taught Alejandra Traslosheros Reyes ’18 that you can never learn enough.

Dennis Vera
A Resilient Heart

Dennis Vera ’19 places a priority on people, loves to socialize and has a deep love for family. She also refuses to give up.

Becky Ioppolo
Real-World Confidence

Becky Ioppolo’s ’13 Earlham experience pointed her toward different fields and ways of thinking. And it gave her courage, all of which has proven helpful.

Our Faculty

Neal Baker
Library Director

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
  • (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
  • (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
  • (D-I) = Diversity - International
  • (D-L) = Diversity - Language
  • (RCH) = Research
  • (W) = Wellness
  • (WI) = Writing Intensive
  • (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year

*ARBC 101 BASIC ARABIC I (5 credits)
An outcome-based, interactive approach to basic Modern Standard Arabic and the Levantine colloquial dialect that emphasizes the development of the linguistic and cultural competence needed to communicate with native speakers. Communication skills are developed gradually. Students will master the Arabic alphabet and sound system. Students will be able to talk about themselves, their education and their families, as well as ask basic questions and comprehend simple written texts. This course requires active participation in and outside of class. (D-L)

*ARBC 102 BASIC ARABIC II (5 credits)
A continuation of Arabic I. Prerequisite: ARBC 101, placement exam or consent of the instructor. (D-L)

ARBC 103 ARABIC III (5 credits)
This is a "four language skills" first-year Arabic course. Using a communicative/proficiency-oriented approach, students will speak, read and write in Modern Standard Arabic. The homework load is substantial as the course covers the grammar and vocabulary of first-year Arabic in one semester. The next course in sequence is ARBC 201.

An intermediate course in Modern Standard Arabic and the Levantine colloquial dialect. Students continue to develop skills in reading comprehension, speaking, listening, vocabulary and grammar. Materials include written Arabic, audiovisual instruments, planned and unplanned conversations, and activities that cover daily life situations, songs and cultural issues. Prerequisite: Arabic 102, placement exam or consent of the instructor. (D-L)

A continuation of Intermediate Arabic I. Prerequisite: ARBC 201, placement exam or consent of the instructor.

ARBC 301 ADVANCED ARABIC I (3 credits)
This is an advanced course in Arabic language and culture. Students continue to develop skills in reading, speaking, listening and writing. This course may be developed around a theme or a topic of a region of the Arabic-speaking world. Prerequisites: ARBC 202, placement exam or consent of the instructor.

A continuation of Advanced Arabic I. Prerequisite: ARBC 301, placement exam or consent of the instructor.

Studies several theoretical approaches and addresses a variety of issues. In addition to readings, discussion and research on particular aspects of translation, students design and carry out individual and group translation projects. Prerequisite: Advanced level reading skills or consent of the instructor. (AY)

Develops students’ appreciation of texts from various countries or regions. Students may be asked to read texts in translation or in the original language. This course may be taken more than one time for credit when the topics are different. Prerequisites: Vary according to theme.

ARBC 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Independent studies cover material not taught in our regularly offered courses. Intended for advanced students who have developed a special interest in Arabic, such as a linguistics project, a literature project, a cultural theme or some other independent research. Independent Study proposals must be approved by the Middle East Studies faculty.

Collaborative research with faculty funded by Ford/Knight Program.

Students must be selected as a Teaching Assistant for an Arabic course and consult with the instructor before registration.

Other Course Offerings

  • HIST 240 History of the Modern Middle East
  • HIST 371 Zionism and Modern Israel
  • HIST 373 America’s Middle East
  • MUS 367 Musics of the Arab World
  • POLS 340 Lipstick and Jihad
  • POLS 363 Israel and the Middle East
  • REL 155 Hebrew Scriptures
  • REL 180 Islam
  • REL 240 Islam and Film
  • REL 285 Judaism