EPIIC to explore issues in Middle East, North Africa
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 08:09
This year’s Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) colloquium will focus on the future of the Middle East and North Africa.
The two-semester program, run through the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL), will examine topics such as the management of the Middle East and North Africa, the ongoing crisis in Syria, nuclear threats in Iran and the increasing role of non-state actors like Hezbollah and the Kurds.
According to IGL Associate Director Heather Barry, the topic was chosen for the sheer quantity of discussion material. Set against the backdrop of the 100th anniversary of World War I, the course will examine an area of the world that is currently experiencing political instability, demographic growth and urbanization.
“Look at what is talked about in today’s news,” Barry said. “There is so much turmoil in this region, and it is important to look at the impact so many of our decisions will have on the people living in these areas.”
The topic has both national and international relevance, Barry added.
“It’s so prevalent because it has such an impact on our country as we look at negotiations over Syria,” she said.
Both Barry and IGL Director Sherman Teichman agreed that the Tufts community is already interested in the subject matter and that providing background on these important issues will benefit students.
“It’s exciting that we have the chance to introduce a number of students that represent all four grades and come from extraordinarily diverse backgrounds to an extremely compelling region in today’s world,” Teichman said.
The goal of this year’s program is to provide students with a more nuanced understanding of the Middle East, according to Barry.
“We are not just focusing on political or economic issues,” Barry said. “We want our students to walk away with an overall understanding of these regions and to spark their imagination for ways in which they can get engaged with these issues.”
Barry expressed excitement for the upcoming year, which will include visits from speakers such as journalist Scott Anderson on Sept. 17 and Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi in November. The speakers hail from a variety of places, including Egypt, Syria, the U.S. Department of State and even Tufts.
“We are really looking forward to each and every one of our speakers,” Teichman said. “All of them are influential, and each of them was chosen very carefully.”
Teichman is happy to introduce a strong class of new students at this year’s symposium. Students underwent a rigorous selection process during which many had to be turned away, he said.
“While we have wonderful students, we had to disappoint a number of students,” Teichman said. “Before finalizing the class list, we spent close to 25 hours interviewing applicants, so we know a lot about our students even though it is just the beginning of the year.”
Freshman Jonathan Moore, a member of the EPIIC class, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn about the issues facing the Middle East.
“I like that [Teichman] and [Barry] expect us to go above and beyond to learn and grow as individual learners, scholars and global citizens — the bar is set high, and jumping to reach is equally intimidating as it is awesome,” Moore told the Daily in an email.
The course’s spring culmination will mark the 29th Annual Norris and Margery Bendetson EPIIC International Symposium and Teichman’s 28th year at IGL.
Teichman believes that this year’s EPIIC will be a success.
“We are trying to provide our students with the highest degree of quality,” Teichman said. “The strong quality of the students and the interest they have already expressed is an indicator that we will have a successful year.”