Course to Examine Middle East

Beginning this fall, UC Irvine’s School of Humanities will offer a new two-course seminar that will tackle a potentially controversial issue.
This class, entitled ‘Imagining the Future: Israelis and Palestinians in the 21st Century,’ will inform students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and push them to think about realistic solutions to problems that may remain after peace is achieved.
The course will also consist of a research class during the winter quarter in which students will work in small groups with faculty direction, and submit a final paper project. A panel of judges will decide the ‘best overall’ project and the winners will receive an award of $2,000.
In order to enroll in the course, a student must have at least a cumulative grade-point average of 2.9. The Cross-Cultural Center, the Department of History and the Office of the Dean of Students all have applications that are due June 15 for interested students.
‘Among the many issues that will be addressed in the seminar are questions of politics and society, gender, economics, resources and the environment and education,’ said history professor Daniel Schroeter, one of the faculty members who have been working to put the course together.
In order to cover all of these issues, the class will be taught by a team of UCI faculty members from different departments, ranging from urban and regional planning and political science to women’s studies and anthropology.
Professor of women’s studies Lara Deeb will be lecturing on gender, sexuality and citizenship in the fall and may also supervise an independent study group in the winter quarter.
‘One of our goals for this course is to encourage students to think critically and creatively about the specific sorts of problems related to a just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,’ Deeb said.
While classes that address the Middle East conflict are not uncommon, ‘they often do little to decrease campus tension,’ Schroeter said.
Schroeter explained that another goal of the course is to ‘engage student leaders in a project that involves working together on common grounds to think outside the box of the current, largely conflictual dynamics that govern relations between Palestinians and Israelis.’
Second-year political science major Wade Peng, expressed interest in the course.
‘It sounds like a great way for students to learn how to work together, even when the issues at hand are pretty controversial,’ Peng said. ‘It is a unique way of presenting such a topic, and hopefully people will take advantage of this learning and growing activity.’
Creators of the course stress the importance of its potential. Schroeter has faith in the seminar and its goals.
‘The course can truly become a transformative experience that integrates academic research, team work, communal education and reconciliation,’ Schroeter said.