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Geography: Geography of the Middle East

GEOG 158 OL1 (CRN: 61748)

3 Credit Hours

For crosslists see: GRS 195 OL1

About GEOG 158 OL1

Political, cultural, and physical geography of the Middle East, with an emphasis on the relationship between the Middle East and the West. Prerequisite: GEOG 050 or GEOG 070.



Dates: May 22 - June 30, 2017; Cross listed with: GRS 195 OL1

More Information

Section Description

This online course introduces the geography of the Middle East through three complementary lenses: geopolitics; urban life; and nature-society relations. We use those three lenses to develop an analysis of the Syrian civil war. Rather than being based on a set of unchanging physical characteristics (such as deserts), a single religious identity (Islam), or timeless social and ethnic identities (such as tribes, nomads, Bedouins, Arabs, etc.), the geography of the Middle East is the product of complicated set of political, cultural, and environmental dynamics. This course focuses on three dynamics that have produced the region: Geopolitics: How is the ‘invention’ of the Middle East connected to broader social, political, and economic transformations? Urban life: How are forms of urban life in the region both characteristic of the ‘Middle East’ and connected to forms of life elsewhere? Society/environment: How have efforts to control the environment helped to produce and sustain specific social and political systems that we take to be representative of the region? We bring these perspectives together in the final quarter of the course, when we focus in detail on the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Section Expectation

At the conclusion of this course, students will have: Developed a knowledge of how and why the ‘Middle East’ was invented as a region. Learned to understand cities as complicated and contested sites of social, political, and cultural interaction. Acquired a critical perspective on the politics of the environment, enabling them to explain how the natural landscape was used to justify particular political and economic projects. Increased their fluency navigating online resources, including distinguishing between sources and accessing a variety of research databases. Refined their skills as writers, readers, and thinkers through a variety of on-line assignments. Worked to engage with their peers and their broader social networks to show the complicated histories and geographies that have produced the Middle East.


Module quizzes (x4) Discussion board posts (2-3/week, total of 15) Weekly engagement (1/week, total of 6) Final paper (due July 5, at 11:59 pm)




Online Course (View Campus Map)

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