The Arab Political Science Network (APSN) in collaboration with the Lebanese American University (LAU) organized its inaugural Teaching Workshop on December 13, 2019 entitled ‘Reading Walt in Beirut and Wendt in Doha – Teaching International Relations (IR) in the Middle East.’ The workshop, which took place in Beirut, was organised by Dr. May Darwich (University of Birmingham), Dr. Morten Valbjørn (Aarhus University) and Dr. Bassel Salloukh (LAU); and brought together 12 faculty members teaching International Relations across the Arab world (Lebanon, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and Morocco). The cost of participation including travel, lodging, and meals were covered by a contribution from the Ford Foundation and the Lebanese American University (LAU).
The one-day program featured intense discussions and critical reflections on teaching IR in the Arab World. The discussions were structured around three sessions. The first examined how we teach IR in general and IR of the Middle East in particular and what content to include in the courses. The discussions focused on syllabi structure, inclusion/exclusion of theoretical approaches, empirical cases used (from inside/outside the Middle East), and methodological considerations. The second session focused on how the content taught in the classroom is received by students in the Arab world. Participants discussed students’ reaction to the content, and delved deeper into how Western IR texts are read differently/similarly across the Arab world. In addition, this session revealed how institutional difference (public versus private universities) have an influence on classroom dynamics. The third session explored the political and cultural contexts in Arab societies and their impact on teaching IR. It examined the political challenges and opportunities that shape the curriculum and classroom dynamics.