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Haverford College
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About Concentration in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

To complete the concentration, students are required to fulfill several requirements. First, they must demonstrate competence above the intermediate level in a language pertinent to their area of research (A, see requirements). Second, students must take two courses in which they learn about the Middle East and Islam (B, see requirements). Third, students should pursue areas of inquiry related to the Middle East and/or Islam and specific to their interests by taking four electives, at least one of which is at the 300 level (C, see requirements). Examples might include anthropological approaches to the study of Islam or Middle East, the art of the Muslim world, Islam in African politics, medieval Persian history, Jihadi movements, the Iranian Revolution, modern Arabic literature, etc. Fourth, students must write a thesis in their major department that addresses Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and is approved by the Concentration Coordinator (as well as the major advisor).

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We strongly encourage students with interests in the Middle East and Islam to meet with the Concentration Coordinator early in their college program (in their first and second years). We also invite students to take advantage of Haverford’s study abroad programs in Egypt, Morocco, and other appropriate locations to advance their work in the concentration.

An "Area of Concentration" at Haverford is designed to facilitate a student pursuing an area of study distinct from her major, but which s/he can use the disciplinary tools of her major to pursue. To that end, at least two courses, and no more than three, fulfill both the student’s major requirements and the concentration requirements. In practical terms, this means that students who want to concentrate in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies will usually major in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, History, Political Science, Religion, or Sociology. In some cases, students may find that other majors can be joined with a concentration in MEIS (for example, History of Art and Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr are two departments that sometimes have two or three course offerings that could count for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies). Students who can demonstrate that at least two courses in their major are about Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies can petition the Concentration Coordinator and Faculty to have their major approved.

Bryn Mawr & Swarthmore

In addition to the Haverford Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies proposal, students may choose to concentrate in Middle East Studies at Bryn Mawr College, or minor in Islamic Studies at Swarthmore College. The Bryn Mawr Middle East Studies has two key differences from the Haverford program: 1) they offer an option to concentrate without language work, and 2) they require study of the premodern period. The Swarthmore Islamic Studies program differs from the Haverford program in that it is a stand-alone minor, rather than a concentration. Only one course in the student’s major can count toward the Islamic Studies minor. Swarthmore’s Islamic Studies minor can include instruction in kathak, a form of classical Indian dance.