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Regional Focus: Middle East (ISME)

Regional Focus: Middle East (ISME)

The Middle East is a region of great ethnic and cultural diversity and intense nationalist rivalry. Its near monopoly of world energy supplies and geopolitical location have long made it a focus of international capital flow, labor migration and world power competition. 



Amentu Remzi

Middle East


This region of focus introduces students to the distinctive cultural histories of the ethnic groups of the region and their interrelationships from Roman times to the present, examining at the same time larger political, economic and cultural patterns at work in the region in the same period. Specific contemporary issues such as transnational culture, migrant labor, distribution of wealth are also addressed.

A variety of scholarly and literary sources are used to provide the student with a varied and balanced view of this complex region.

Key issues facing Middle Eastern societies in the 21st century, issues which face the United States as well: ethnicity, transnational culture, migrant labor, the politics of energy, and distribution of wealth in the context of both regional and world power structures.

Western Wall

Regional Coordinator

Kimberley Brown

University Center Building 335L (503)725-8194

Birol Yesilada

Urban Center Building 650H (503) 725-3257

For a different regional coordinator, please visit the Middle East Studies Faculty Page.

Regional Focus

At least 20 upper-division credits (with a grade C or above) from adviser-approved, area-specific courses appropriate to the student's regional focus; selected from departments and programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Business Administration, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Fine and Performing Arts, and the College of Urban and Public Affairs.

Turkish Studies

Portland State University is home to one of two university-based Centers for Turkish Studies in the US and the only Contemporary Turkish Studies degree program with a focus on modern Turkey - its politics, economy, history, society and culture. In addition to modern Turkey, the Center is expanding its expertise in areas pertaining to the Turkic world.

See International Studies Certificate Programs in Contemporary Turkish Studies and Middle East Studies.

See also PSU Middle East Studies Center: The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East.  It supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library for students, faculty, and the community.

Foreign Language

A common misconception is that globalization has reduced the value of knowledge of languages other than English.

International Studies students must demonstrate competence in a regionally appropriate foreign language either by completing the final term of the second year of the language with a C or better, or by completing a proficiency evaluation to demonstrate second-year proficiency that is arranged through the PSU World Languages and Literatures department.  

(For some, proficiency in a language other than English may be demonstrated by presenting a high-school graduation certificate from an appropriate country outside the U.S.)

Adviser-Approved Middle Eastern Languages:

  • Arabic**
  • Hebrew
  • Persian
  • Turkish

(Other Middle Eastern languages upon coordinator approval)

**International Studies Middle East focus majors who are beginning their study of Arabic at Portland State University must complete 24 credits of course work.   Every student starts with First Year Arabic, but will have the opportunity to tailor their subsequent class work to focus on Modern Standard Arabic(*), or on Spoken Arabic(*), or a combination. Additional course work above the 200-level is recommended, but not required.  

Students of First Year Arabic may find it helpful to consult with the adviser for Arabic in the World Languages and Literatures Department to determine which sequence best fits their needs and interests.  Note that the third option does not earn any upper-division credit.

1. Modern Standard Arabic 

2. Standard and Spoken Arabic

3. Standard and Spoken Arabic

Ar 101, 102, 103

Ar 101, 102, 103

Ar 101, 102, 103

Ar 201, 202, 203

Ar 204, 205, 206

*Ar 201, 202, 203

Ar 301, 302, 303

Ar 304, 305, 306

*Ar 204, 205, 206

									                                         *could be taken simultaneously

(*) This article explains the difference between standard and spoken Arabic. 

Education Abroad

There is not an education abroad requirement associated with the International Studies major; however, our students are encouraged to pursue international experience opportunities. Portland State University's Education Abroad Office offers study abroad opportunities in the following countries in the Middle East:

  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

For more information on any of these programs please visit the Education Abroad office in East Hall 101.

Need a reason to study abroad??  . . . just read this article and it will inform you of many of the benefits of an intercultural academic experience!