Learn about the Middle East’s politics, shifting power configurations, and efforts to promote peace and global security from Jordan, a peace broker in the region.
Study the Middle East’s complex history from Jordan’s capital, Amman.
Over the last two decades, the Middle East experienced major events—from the 1994 Oslo Peace Treaty to the Arab Spring revolutions to the civil wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen—that continue to reshape the geopolitical map of the region. As a peace broker in the region, Jordan provides an excellent site from which to study territorial conflict and state sovereignty, international intervention, and how geography’s effects on politics and international relations. You’ll learn about the dominant international relations paradigms in the Middle East and discuss reconciliation models with political scientists, diplomats, and policymakers. You’ll also consider the rise of ISIS and the role of Russia and the US in peacemaking in the Middle East.
Go on excursions throughout Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
In Jordan, you’ll visit the Dead Sea, Mount Nebo, Roman ruins, the Red Sea port Aqaba, Wadi Rum, the Dana Nature Reserve, and Petra. In the United Arab Emirates, you’ll visit four out of seven emirates and learn about geo-economics and international business in the Gulf.
Advance your skills in Modern Standard Arabic.
You’ll be placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation and have further language practice in homestays and on excursions. You’ll also learn the basics of Jordanian colloquial Arabic.
Experience daily life in Jordan during an extended homestay.
You’ll live with a family in Amman for 12 weeks. Through interactions with your host family, you will have extensive opportunities to practice your Arabic and to contextualize Jordanians’ understanding of regional politics and the role of Jordan as a peace broker.
Customize the program to meet your academic and career goals.
You have a number of options to choose from. First, choose whether to focus on language learning or peacebuilding. In addition to the required thematic course (Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East) and three credits of Arabic, you can choose to take another three credits of Arabic, for a total of six credits of Arabic, or to take the course The Psychology of Peace, in which you’ll study the applications of human psychology in the field of international politics and will learn the psychological causes of violence and nonviolence, the role of emotions in peacebuilding, negotiations of political disputes, and the impact of exiled and displaced populations on the psychology of peace and conflict resolution. You also have the choice of conducting independent research on a relevant topic of your choosing or interning at an international NGO or small company for the last few weeks of the program.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- How geography shapes politics, shifts power, and impacts international relations in the Middle East
- The impact of political crises on social organization, the economy, and human ecology in the Middle East
- Territorial conflict and state sovereignty, international intervention, and international relations
- The underpinnings of the Arab Spring on politics and society in Jordan and neighboring countries
- Internal, regional, and international arenas examined through an experiential learning model
- The impact of Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian immigrants and refugees, now two thirds of Jordan’s population
- Theory and practice of peace psychology and contributions of psychological analyses of foreign policy, international conflict, and conflict resolution to the understanding of international relations
- The role of Jordan as a peace broker in the region and the effects of diplomacy and international relations in conflict resolution
The program’s thematic seminar introduces key aspects of modernization and social change in Jordan. Lectures and excursions introduce students to the critical issues in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, a moderate Arab state confronting political responsibilities, modernization, social change, and the effects of regional conflicts and the ensuing refugee crisis. Issues surrounding gender and identity as well those of regulations, immigration, media, and religion are explored. The language course accommodates any level of Arabic language ability and includes a focus on Jordanian colloquial dialect.
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Choose to take either the two thematic seminars and 3-credit Arabic language course OR the first thematic seminar and 6-credit Arabic language course.
Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East – syllabus
(MDES3000 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)Over the last two decades, the Middle East has been the stage of events that continue to reshape the geopolitical map of the region. As a peace broker in the region, Jordan provides an excellent site for the study of ways in which geography shapes politics, shifts power configurations, and impacts international relations. Issues considered include territorial conflict and state sovereignty; international intervention and dominant paradigm of international relations; geopolitical imagining and refugee crisis; and the impact of political crises on social organization, the economy, and human ecology. Students study the nature of the dominant international relations paradigm in the Middle East and geopolitical discourse. This seminar includes classroom activities (lectures and reading assignments) and incorporates educational excursions, visits to organizations, agencies, critical thinking exercises, volunteer work, and field-based assignments.
The Psychology of Peace – syllabus
(MDES/PSYC3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
This interdisciplinary seminar addresses theory and practice of peace psychology, the psychological causes of violence and nonviolence, nonviolent struggle, nonviolence and social change, the role of emotions in peacebuilding, negotiations of political disputes, and the impact of exiled and displaced populations on the psychology of peace and conflict resolution. The seminar also assesses applications of human psychology to the study of international politics. Psychological analyses of foreign policy and decision making, international conflict, and conflict resolution greatly contribute to the understanding of international relations. Students study the psychology of diverse actors of international relations, international relations and foreign policy decision making, role of biases, role of emotions in political decision making, and other psychological factors contributing to better understanding and explanation of international relations and politics. Through field visits with NGOs working in psychological services, health institutions, and discussions with academics, diplomats, and peace negotiators, students learn about the psychology of peace as it impacts conflict resolution and peace processes in Jordan and the Middle East.
Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1003-1503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2003-2503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3003-3503 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1006-1506 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2006-2506 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3006-3506 / 6 credits / 90 class hours)
The language course is offered at different levels, and students have the option to take either three credits or six credits. The language course emphasizes speaking, reading, and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic (Fusha) through classroom and field instruction. Students are placed in intensive beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. A component on Jordanian Colloquial Arabic is also part of the course.
All students take the following course:
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 class hours)
The seminar includes lectures on qualitative methods of research in social sciences and in particular in the critical global issues of migration, identity, and resilience; development of a research or internship proposal; and preparation of an application for review of research with human subjects. All students will participate in an overview of research design and methodological approaches to program themes. Ethical considerations related to conducting research or completing an internship will be discussed. The overall aim is to help students hone their experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an Independent Study Project, which is largely based on the data gathered from primary sources, or an internship at a local organization.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 class hours)
Conducted in Amman or another approved location in Jordan appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: the Jordanian political system; Jordan's foreign policy; the Arab Spring, refugees, nongovernmental organizations, and the Jordanian internal arena; state power and the regulation of Islam; gender and forms of sexual expression; Jordan and the Gulf Corporation Council; political power of tribes; social change through modern art; the Christian population in Amman; nationalism in Jordan; women's participation in Jordanian politics and civil society; Islam and state discourses on development; nongovernmental organization and donor interaction in Jordan; environment, resources, and sustainable development; freedom of expression in the Jordanian press; relationships among Jordanian youth.
Internship and Seminar – syllabus coming soon
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. A focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue focus and overall program theme.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Educational excursions highlight Jordan’s modernization, along with social changes taking place, and provide an exceptional opportunity to compare urban and rural communities as well as Jordanian and Emirati experiences in geopolitics.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has emerged as a leading economic, political, and cultural power in the region, and many countries in the Middle East look to the UAE paradigm as an important model. On this excursion, you’ll visit four out of seven emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Shariqah, and Ajman). Here, you’ll learn about the history of the Emirates, the expat work force, and geo-economics and international business in the Gulf.
You’ll meet with peers from New York University in Abu Dhabi, the American University in Dubai, Dubai Heritage Village, Mamsha Al Jumaira, Dubai Boulevard (Khalifah Tower, the Fountain, and Dubai Mall), Emirates Palace, Shiekh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi Corniche, H. H. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi of Ajman Emirate, Arab Peninsula Animals Center, Sharjah Islamic Arts Museum, Al Qasba Canal, and many other sites.
You will write a comparative essay in which you will analyze aspects of what you learn in UAE and Jordan and document how the excursion contributed to your understanding of the geopolitics of the Middle East.
Central and Southern Jordan
Improve your Arabic with customized lessons in a field-based setting focusing on the sites and communities you visit and participate in highly interactive conversations about the places you experience.
Highlights of this excursion include:
- The extraordinary remains of the ancient city of Jerash, one of the most impressive and best preserved Roman cities outside of Italy
- Ajloun, home to the Castle of Ajloun or Qalaat Errabadh (Arabic for “hilltop castle”), built by Muslims from 1184–85 as a military fort and buffer to protect the region from invading Crusader forces. You’ll spend a night at the Ajloun Forest Lodge, which offers beautiful views of the reserve.
- Located approximately 33 miles southeast of Amman in the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea is the most spectacular natural landscape in Jordan. In addition to being one of the lowest points on earth, the Dead Sea is the world’s richest source of natural salts.
- Madaba, best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, including a map of Palestine and the Nile delta located in the nineteenth-century St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church, and Mount Nebo, according to ancient tradition, the mountain from which Moses saw the Promised Land
- Wadi Mujib, a spectacular gorge that enters the Dead Sea. The Mujib Reserve of Wadi Mujib is the lowest nature reserve in the world.
- Aqaba, an ancient and important port city dating back to 4000 BCE. Also known as Ayla, Aqaba was once ruled by the Mamluk Sultan from Egypt.
- Wadi Rum, among the most stunning desertscapes in the world. You will experience the exceptional hospitality of the desert people and Bedouin tribe and may share mint tea or cardamom coffee or join them by the fire under a starry desert sky.
- Petra, a treasure of the ancient world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Prior to arrival in the Rose-Red City, you will receive an intensive academic lecture about Petra and then your group will spread out in pairs and small groups to explore the city.
- Dana Nature Reserve, which has dynamic topography that extends from the top of the Jordan Rift Valley to the desert lowlands of Wadi Araba. You will experience the reserve’s impressive mountains, the ancient ruins of Feinan, the cliffs of Wadi Dana, and Dana village.
- Located in the heart of Jordan’s eastern desert, Azraq, which means “blue” in Arabic, is Jordan’s only wetlands reserve. You will visit this historic oasis and gain insights into the importance of environmental conservation. You will also visit Qasr al-Harraneh and Qusayr ‘Amra, two historic castles from the eighth century.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Ashraf Alqudah, PhD, Academic Director
Ashraf holds a PhD in clinical and medical psychology from the College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, and an MA in psychology from the University of Jordan. He specializes in clinical medical psychology and the psychology of chronic pain. His area of research interest includes psychopathology, psychological treatments and psychotherapies, and psycho-social support for refugees and displaced persons. Ashraf is also affiliated with the department of psychology at the University of Jordan in Amman and has worked on projects conducted by a number of health organizations that included Doctors of the World Organization, the War Trauma Foundation, and the Antares Foundation. He is a member of the Higher Council of the Humanitarian Support Network of Jordan and the Jordanian Mental Health Licensing Committee. Since 2008, he has been involved with the SIT Modernization and Social Change program in Jordan as lecturer, ISP advisor, and then as coordinator of the Research Methods and Ethics course. Ashraf has co-authored a number of articles that have appeared in the Journal of Cybertherapy and Rehabilitation, the Journal of Pain Research, and the International Journal of Psychological Studies. He is currently finishing a research project on stress and burnout sources among NGO workers working with refugees.
Raed Al-Tabini, PhD, Senior Advisor
Raed holds a PhD in arid and semi-arid land management (rangeland management) and community development from Newcastle University in the UK. He is a former deputy president of the Badia Research and Development Center in Jordan and has managed a variety of development projects in the Middle East and North Africa on such diverse topics as community-based rangeland rehabilitation, management of scarce water resources, and development of sustainable livelihoods in agro-pastoral communities. Raed is a frequent presenter at international conferences and has published more than 25 academic papers and reports in the field of sustainable development. Raed co-wrote with Octavio A. Ramirez, Richard Phillips, and Frank A. Ward the article “Irrigation Water Conservation and Market-based Approaches: Balancing Agricultural and Urban Water Demands in the Face of Climate Change in Jordan’s Azraq Basin,” published in Adaptation to Climate Change through Water Resources Management: Capacity, Equity and Sustainability (Routledge, 2014). Raed is currently the director of the Hashemite Fund for Jordanian Badia Development.
Rania Kasab Harfoushi, MA, Program Assistant / Student Affairs
Rania received her master’s degree in international business management from the University of Surrey in England in 2009 after completing her BA in business administration at the Applied Science University in Jordan. Throughout her career, she has accrued significant experience in human resources management while honing her language and cross-cultural intrapersonal skills to fit the needs of SIT’s diverse student population. Her past experience in sports management has also helped her in dealing with a wide variety of personalities. Rania is responsible for managing student affairs and helping students cope with the day-to-day challenges they face while studying abroad in Amman.
Rawan Francis Al-Samaan, Homestay Coordinator
Rawan joined SIT Jordan as custom programs assistant in 2013. In 2014, she became homestay coordinator. In this capacity, she assists with a wide range of homestay arrangements and works with both students and host families on cross-cultural communication skills. Rawan is a lifetime resident of Amman with experience in financial management, analysis, marketing, and strategic planning. She received her bachelor’s degree in finance from the Amman Al-Ahliyeh University in Salt, Jordan, in 2008.
Rima Al-Akramawi, Language Coordinator and Instructor
Rima holds a BA in English language and literature from Mutah University and is a certified translator and language proficiency interviews tester. Rima began teaching Arabic as a second language at SIT Jordan in 2009. She became the SIT Jordan language coordinator in 2012. She has worked as a language coordinator with the Peace Corps and as an Arabic language instructor at the French Cultural Center of Amman and other Arabic language institutions. She is a co-author of Yalla Ndardesh, a modern Jordanian Arabic textbook for non-native speakers of Arabic.
Riham Al-Naimat, MA, Language Instructor
Riham obtained a master’s degree in Arabic language and literature from Al-Albayt University in 2007. In 2009, Riham began volunteering as an SIT Jordan language instructor for intermediate high and advanced levels. In the summer of 2010, she joined SIT full time and has been teaching Modern Standard Arabic ever since. She previously worked as an Arabic instructor at the Jordanian Ministry of Education and as an Arabic instructor and language coordinator at international schools in Saudi Arabia.
Hala Alfayez, Language Instructor
Hala has a BA in law from the University of Jordan. She received training for teaching Arabic as a foreign language from the University of Jordan and Qasid Institute for Classical and Modern Standard Arabic. She worked as a language-speaking partner to American students at the American Center of Oriental Research.
Moayad Al Azzam, Language Instructor
Moayad received a BA in translation from Yarmouk University in 2013. He worked as a language and cultural facilitator for the Peace Corps from 2013 to 2015. Starting in spring 2015, Moayad became a language instructor for SIT Jordan.
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
You will spend the entire program period, other than the time on excursions, living with a homestay family in West Amman. The homestay provides you with an outstanding window into Jordanian urban life and culture. Most homestay families are middle class and maintain the customs of the typical Arab home.
Homestay families may include first or second generations of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, now a major component of Jordanian social and cultural life. You will be integrated into your host family’s daily life, partaking in everyday activities such as sharing breakfast, participating in family outings, and shopping. In some cases, you will have the opportunity to experience a Jordanian wedding ceremony or other traditional cultural activities organized by the host family or relatives.
My time in Jordan led to me working with Iraqi refugees for the last year...
My time in Jordan led to me working with Iraqi refugees for the last year, and now I'll be starting a new career as a Foreign Service officer. Both came about in part from what I learned and experienced in Jordan.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Positions recently held by alumni of this program include:
- Officer at the US Embassy, Amman, Jordan
- Assistant at Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia, Amman, Jordan
- Positions within political, economic, and development agencies and NGOs in Jordan and the Middle East
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will spend the last month of the program working on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which you will conduct primary research on a selected topic. The ISP is conducted in Amman or in another approved location in Jordan appropriate to the project.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- The Arab Spring, refugees, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the Jordanian internal arena
- Jordan and foreign policy
- Political power of tribes
- Social change through modern art
- The Christian population in Amman
- Nationalism in Jordan
- Women’s participation in Jordanian politics and civil society
- Environment, resources, and sustainable development
- Islam and state discourses on development
- NGOs and donor interaction in Jordan
- Freedom of expression in the Jordanian press
- Relationships among Jordanian youth
- Refugees and political change in the region
You can choose to do an internship rather than an ISP. SIT internships are hands-on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper processing your learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization you worked with, and/or you will design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
- Assisting efforts toward mutual understanding at Global Nomads Group
- Conducting political and international research at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies
- Aiding educational initiatives at Madrasati
- Working on humanitarian projects at Jordan’s National Center for Human Rights
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- History and politics
- Culture and society
- Gender issues
- Economic Development
- Field Study Seminar on research methods and Human Subjects Review
- Language instruction in Arabic
- All educational excursions to locations such as Petra, Wadi Rum, Dana Nature Reserve, Aqaba, and the United Arab Emirates, including all related travel costs
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $3,060
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Amman), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or internship, and during the final evaluation period.
- Homestay (twelve weeks in Amman)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Visa Expenses: $ 60
Books & Supplies: $250
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.