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NEW FALL 2016 COURSE – Reassessing the Arab Spring

Reassessing the Arab Spring

May 6, 2016

JSIS 487 A/587 A | 5 credits
Tuesdays 1:30-4:20 | DEM 126 | SLN 16656
Instructor: Kristian Coates Ulrichsen


It has become increasingly clear that much of the Middle East and North Africa is facing an escalating governance and institutional crisis that spans states that experienced upheaval in 2011 as well as those that did not. In addition to a rigorous comparative analysis of individual country experiences, this course will analyze issues such as the root-causes of demands for accountability, transparency, and social justice, the role of militaries and religion in politics, the radicalization of protest elements and the rise of ISIS, implications for the rule of law in the reassertion of authoritarian control, and the evolving balance of intra-regional power.


Students will master a wide range of comparative and analytical tools and develop a set of transferable skills that generate academic research with policy impact and sharpen the ability to understand and contextualize complex and fast-moving regional developments. Students will be required to:

  • Critically assess course material and communicate key findings through a combination of action memos, policy briefs, longer essays, and class presentations.
  • Submit one long essay of 2,500-3,000 words on a weekly theme of their choice,
  • Prepare one action memo of approximately 1,000 words addressed from and to an official or entity
  • Write one policy brief that analyzes key risks and implications and produces clear, digestible policy recommendations for practitioners.
  • Link course content to current events through a ‘From the Headlines’ assignment Training will be given on how to maximize the impact of policy writing and delivery by cutting through large masses of material to identify and highlight events, trends, and developments that are significant, particularly where there are important policy or other implications at stake.
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