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Middle East Studies

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Middle East Studies
Allison Janos, Academic Program Coordinator
1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Suite 628
Washington, DC 20036
+1 (202) 663-5676


The Middle East Studies program takes a historical and theoretical approach to study of regional issues. Courses and programming span a geographic range from Morocco to Iran to Turkey to Somalia and emphasize topics including conflict and contention, states and regimes, and media and markets.

Become an Expert

Combine quantitative skills in economics and statistics with a focus on the history, culture, commerce, and foreign affairs of nations in the region. Understand the geopolitical challenges of statecraft and transitions in governance and prepare for careers managing trade, finance, or diplomacy.


Featured Courses

Gain an in-depth understanding on the historical background of the Middle East, including its Islamic history, and how it has shaped the region.


Great Powers of the Middle East and North Africa

How have Great Powers shaped the history and politics of states in the Middle East and North Africa? For over a century, Great Powers have been extensively involved in the region: they established colonies, protectorates, and mandates during colonial period; afterward, they employed military force to constrain and shape regimes.

Focusing primarily on Great Britain, France, and the United States, this course examines the causes and consequences of foreign military intervention from colonial conquest through the post-colonial period. Students will critically assess claims that link Great Power actions to current-day conditions in the region through evaluating contemporary scholarship and analyzing the history of selected cases.


The Iranian Revolution at 40

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 marked a watershed moment in world politics. Coined “the last great revolution,” the mass movements of the late 1970s led to the toppling of the United States’ greatest ally in the region, Mohammad Reza Shah, and the birth of the first modern Islamic Republic.

In essence, the events of 1979 Iran shifted the global geo-political terrain that has had profound repercussions to this day. In this course, students will delve into theories of revolutionary movements and post-revolutionary politics from political science, sociology, and political anthropology; and they will examine the rich and complex history of 40 years of the Islamic Republic of Iran, studying the dynamic political formations of the state, as well as social and cultural movements in the country. The course will cover the women’s movement, the labor movement, the teacher’s movement, and the student movement, in an effort to more fully understand state-society relations in contemporary Iran.


The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: History, Politics, Narratives

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is among the most protracted and seemingly irresolvable conflicts of modern times. It is also a conflict that attracts much international attention while standing at the center of heated political debates.

The objective of this course is to provide an in-depth understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from its origin to the present, starting with the clash between Zionism and Arab-Palestinian nationalism during the British Mandate, the period of interstate rivalry between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the watershed event of the 1967 war, and the return to a struggle between Israel and the Palestinians in the last decades. While the course is structured chronologically, special attention will be paid to the different interpretations of history and the contrasting narratives of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Of central importance are the questions of why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not been solved yet, and whether peace is possible.


The New Turkey

The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to Turkey’s rapidly evolving domestic and external environment by examining Turkey’s domestic dynamics; the Ottoman legacy; the official ideology of the republic, Kemalism; and the role of the Turkish military as the guardian of this official ideology.

The course will also focus on the Kurdish question and political Islam as Turkey’s two major “identity” problems. The rise of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) in the last decade and the clash between Kemalism, the Kurdish question and political Islam will be a major theme of class discussions and presentations. The course will also look at Turkish foreign policy and Turkey’s evolving strategic vision and culture under the leadership of AKP.

Learn From the Best

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Narges Bajoghli

Assistant Professor

Adria Lawrence

Aronson Associate Professor of International Studies and Political Science

Raffaella A. Del Sarto

Associate Professor of Middle East Studies

Camille Pecastaing

Senior Associate Professor

In the News

Global China’s plan for overseas military bases.

Mara Karlin interviewed on Brookings Cafeteria podcast, 10/4

Two-thirds of young Arabs consider Iran a foe.

Sanam Vakil cited in Gulf News, 10/3

Iran under pressure as Europe‘s patience 'wearing thin'

Sanam Vakil cited in The Arab Weekly, 9/24

Hard-liners in Iran see no drawback to bellicose strategy.

Sanam Vakil quoted in The New York Times, 9/17

Turkey's social problems laid bare in popular hip-hop song.

Lisel Hintz quoted in The National, 9/9

Turkey’s opposition rap sheet reverberates under scrutiny.

Lisel Hintz wrote in The Washington Post Monkey Cage blog, 9/10

Advance Your Career

Gain the intellectual framework and analytic skills necessary to enter a variety of roles across the public, private, multilateral, and nonprofit sectors.

Recent Employers

  • A.T. Kearney
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Dataminr
  • Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
  • Refugees International
  • The Aspen Institute
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of State
  • World Bank Group

Recent Internships

  • The Delma Institute
  • McLarty Associates
  • Overseas Private Investment Corporation
  • Peres Center for Peace and Innovation
  • Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
  • US Department of State

Build Your Network

Join a diverse, accomplished, influential community of scholars, practitioners, alumni, and students working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Students visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where they participated in a cultural exchange with Prince Sultan University.

MES students traveled to Thailand to analyze developmental military regimes, comparing Thailand to Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, and Morocco.

Students visited the Chang Hua Man royal project, a sustainable farm initiative created by the late King Rama IX in Thailand.

Middle East Studies and Conflict Management students traveled together to Tunisia for a study trip.

Policy Making and Conflict Resolution

" I had the chance to participate in a study trip to the Casamance region in Senegal where I studied and met with the major players of a low-level conflict that has been ongoing for the past 30 years."

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Building a Better Future for Refugees

"I knew I wanted to attend a school with strong conflict management and international development departments and Johns Hopkins SAIS was the only institution that fit the bill."

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Oct 22 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Room 500, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW

Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

Join us for a discussion with author Azadeh Moaveni, who will share insights from her new book "Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS."

Among the many books...

Beyond the Classroom

Explore pressing issues in and about the Middle East through study treks, internships, and exciting research opportunities.

Middle East and North Africa Club

Bringing together classmates school-wide interested in the Middle East and North Africa, this extracurricular club offers networking opportunities with alumni and professionals active in the markets, culture, and policy of these regions.

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World-Class Events

Hear groundbreaking research from leading scholars and practitioners at our weekly seminars. Recent sessions have explored topics including Iran in the age of maximum pressure, relief efforts aiding Syrian refugees, and the contestation of national identity in Turkey.

Networking Events

Network with alumni and professionals and organize student-led events exploring the Middle East's challenges and opportunities outside the classroom.

Student Government Association

Serve as the liaison between the student body and administration, offering ideas for programming at the school and selecting guest speakers for the faculty research seminar series.