The student learning objectives of the MES major are as follows:
1. Be able to identify how various forces, such as the economic, political, international, geo-political, intellectual, ideological, cultural, religious, artistic, literary, and the environmental, shape the region and human experiences.
2. Be able to understand how communities, religious and ethnic groups, and individuals are shaped by the pasts of the societies in which they live.
3. Be able to think about how society and the institutions central to it both shape and are shaped by those pasts.
4. Be able to understand how particular geographic areas in the Middle East in certain time periods have been shaped by the historical background and political backdrop of the region.
5. Be conversant with scholarly conventions and debates concerning the Middle East and to be able to critically assess claims made by those in the field, in politics, and in the media.
6. Develop the ability to read, critically evaluate, and interpret a wide range of historical source material, including but not limited to religious texts, historical documents, political sources, art, literature, and film.
7. Be able to frame questions, investigate problems and evaluate conclusions using one or more academic disciplines or approaches (e.g. historical analysis, political science, social scientific analysis, critical theories in the study of religion, and literary theory) through the use of both primary and secondary sources to construct arguments.
8. Develop the ability to express these arguments in effective written work.
9. Understand the general history of the Middle East from the rise of Islam until the contemporary period, with specialized knowledge of their particular area or period of interest.
10. Be able to directly access the language(s), text(s), and culture(s) of the Middle East, in order to obtain a more objective understanding of issues pertaining to the fields of Middle Eastern Studies.
The major requires a solid, intellectually rigorous research paper, written in any Middle Eastern Studies course in Categories 1 and 2 with the permission of the instructor, or in an independent study course under the supervision of a Middle Eastern Studies faculty member.
In order to receive credit for the thesis, the student will have to defend the thesis in front of a panel committee of three faculty members. The chair of the Middle Eastern Studies program will serve on the panel as well as the instructor of the course in which the paper was written. The student will select the third faculty member in consultation with the chair of the program. If the chair and the instructor are members of the same department, the third faculty member must be selected from another department. In the event that the chair of the program is also the instructor of the course in which the thesis was written, the program chair will select, in consultation with the Middle Eastern Studies faculty advisory board, another member of the advisory board to serve on the panel.