Tulane must offer more study options in Middle East

Kevin Young, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

The Middle East is a critical area of the world in geopolitics. In Mashriq, journalists dodge bullets to report on Islamic states; in the Persian Gulf, corporations compete for oil. These situations barely scratch the surface. Despite these constantly-changing events, Tulane has few Middle East study abroad options, but these programs require change.

Most people are not even familiar with subdivisions in the Middle East, but they live in a country involved in those parts of the world. Former U.S. presidential candidate Gary Johnson exemplified this by asking “what is Aleppo?” during an MSNBC discussion on global politics. Living and studying there is an excellent way to learn the importance of these places.

Currently, Tulane’s Middle East study abroad options are limited to Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and — as of this academic year — the United Arab Emirates. Tulane cut ties with study abroad programs in Egypt due to safety issues. Tulane should be expanding its Middle East study abroad locations, not decreasing them.

Even with safety as a major concern, there are still plenty of parts of the Middle East free from bloodshed. Some extremely safe places include Oman, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. A few moderately safe places include Tunisia, Kuwait, Kurdistan and Iran.

While many of these places may not appeal to the average Tulane student, consider this fact: the chances of a student dying in Paris are much higher than the probability of being killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. No Tulane administrator would ever dare cut one of its treasured programs in France, but the suggestion of sending students to Saudi Arabia would likely be met with rejection.

Establishing more study abroad options give students a chance to study subjects that Tulane does not teach.

More Middle East study abroad options would also be good for the internship, service learning and career prospects of Tulane students. For instance, a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps student could do a public service learning internship with the Kurdistan Workers Party in Erbil.

Tulane needs to increase its Middle East study abroad options for an array of reasons. This ethnocentric approach of the Office of Study Abroad that places almost all Tulane study abroad students in Europe does not prepare them for the future and is academically irresponsible.

Kevin is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached a [email protected]

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