Dr. Ed Webb, Political Science and International Studies

International Politics of the Middle East

Ed Webb combined what he learned through Valley & Ridge with his experiences as co-director of Across Borders - a State Department-funded international exchange program between the U.S. and the Middle East in 2011-12 - to enhance sustainability and natural resource-related content in his International Politics of the Middle East course, offered each fall. By inviting students to become specialists in particular thematic topics and geographical niches, he aims to empower them to make thoughtful comparisons between the physical and human geography of the Middle East and North Africa on the one hand, and the places where students live and learn on the other. A quarter of the class focus their research on issues of natural resources, complementing others' specialization in issues such as borders or culture. Blogs and in-class discussion help share students' findings. Various assignments inspired by the Valley & Ridge workshop help students develop a grounded understanding of the interaction of global forces and local circumstances in their own communities as well as half way around the world.

In addition, Webb chose water as the theme of a workshop for Seniors embarking upon their capstone research experience in Middle East Studies, taught for the first time in 2012. Participants explore how a complex and critical issue of this kind can benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach, where area-specific historical and cultural knowledge and experiences complement the insights of disciplines such as economics, political science, and environmental sciences.