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Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East

Study the complex history and politics of the Middle East and learn about efforts to promote peace and global security in Jordan’s capital, Amman.

At a Glance





Language of Study


Courses taught in



Aug 28 – Dec 10

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Geopolitics & Power


Why study abroad in Jordan?

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has long played a pivotal role in the geopolitics and international relations of the Middle East. Today, it is a moderate Arab state confronting modernization and the effects of regional conflicts, such as the latest refugee crisis. From the modern capital, Amman, become acquainted with the traditional values of a country with history dating back to ancient times while delving into regional politics and social change. In addition to Petra, Wadi Rum, and Mount Nebo, you’ll visit Istanbul, Turkey, and learn the extent to which Turkey is influencing the future political arena of the Middle East. Throughout the semester, you’ll improve your Arabic language skills through customized lessons in a field-based setting and participation in highly interactive conversations about the sites and communities you visit.


  • Visit Istanbul and different historical, educational, social and political sites on excursions in Turkey.
  • Experience daily life in Jordan through an extended homestay.
  • Discuss regional politics with political scientists, diplomats, and policymakers.
  • Customize your experience by focusing on either Arabic language or peacebuilding.



program map


Turkey and Geopolitics in the Middle East

The program includes an excursion to Istanbul, Turkey, a city that offers a unique blend of East and West and complex geopolitical history. In the past 20 years, Turkey has emerged as a leading political, economic, and cultural power in the region and as a main regional geopolitically influential player. In Istanbul, students have a rich context to learn about a different perspective on international relations and the Turkish influence in shaping the future of the Middle East. Students also learn about sociopolitical minorities such as the Kurds, the Syrians, and international investors. Students also meet with peers from Istanbul University and visit Old Istanbul to discuss the role of Turkey in Syria and Turkey’s relations with Iran, Israel, and world powers such as Russia, the US, and the EU. During this excursion, students will meet with peers from Istanbul University and visit Old Istanbul, the Blue Mosque, Haga Sofia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and Suleymaniye Library and Mosque. They also have the opportunity to enjoy a boat cruise on the Bosphorous reaching close to the black sea. A sea where the surrounding countries have a rich and complex history of geopolitics and international relations.

The Natural Wonders of Jordan

The Dead Sea and the Baptism site
Visit 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. Also, you will visit the Baptism site of Jesus Christ, here you will be in closet point to Israel and West bank.

Wadi Rum
In the vast desert of Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon), the shooting location for much of Lawrence of Arabia and many other films, you’ll enjoy an afternoon of desert trekking around awe-inspiring, vast sandstone mountains. Here, you’ll experience the legendary hospitality of the Bedouin tribes, enjoying mint tea or cardamom coffee in Bedouin tents or talking with your hosts under a starry desert sky.

Al Azraq
Located in the heart of Jordan’s eastern desert, Al Azraq—which means blue in Arabic—is Jordan’s only wetlands reserve. You will visit this historic oasis and learn about the importance of environmental conservation. During the excursion You will meet people different ethnics groups Druze, Chechen and Bedouin.

Ancient and Modern Cities in Jordan

Walk among the extraordinary ruins of Jerash, the best-preserved Roman city outside of Italy,

Desert Eastern Castles
Visit Qasr al-Harraneh and Qusayr Amra, two exceptionally well-preserved castles from the eighth century.

Visit the medieval castle Qalaat Errabadh, built by Muslims to protect the area from invading Crusaders, and stay overnight at the Ajloun lodge nestled among oak, pine, pistachio, and strawberry trees.

At the UNESCO World Heritage site Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, you’ll take in the splendors of this ancient city, a world-famous archaeological wonder featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

You’ll visit Madaba, known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, including a map of Palestine and the Nile delta located in the 19th-century St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church. You’ll also visit the Red Sea port of Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city and a top destination for snorkeling.

Um Qais
It is the best moment when you can experience the geopolitics of the region; a point that you can see Palestine, Israel, Syria and Lebanon. A top a windswept mountain with views of the Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee, you’ll visit the ruins of ancient Jadara.

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Examine the geopolitics, international relations, and the future of the Middle East through engagement with diplomats, political scientists, and peace negotiators.
  • Synthesize the local, regional, and international factors that shape the Middle East political map in research papers and presentations.
  • Explain the tenets of the psychology of peace in conflict transformation.
  • Analyze and process primary data gathered in the field in an Independent Study Project paper in which you draw valid and ethical interpretations and conclusions.
  • Synthesize the internship learning experience in the form of an internship paper.
  • Develop, improve, or advance your communicative and writing proficiency in Arabic and acquire conversational skills in Jordanian colloquial Arabic.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

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.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • How geography shapes politics and international relations in the Middle East
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  • Territorial conflict, state sovereignty, and international intervention
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  • Lasting effects of the Arab Spring on politics and society in the region
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  • The role of Jordan as a peace broker in the region
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  • Effects of diplomacy and international relations in conflict resolution

Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East

Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East – syllabus
(MDES3000 / 3 credits)

Over the last two decades, the Middle East has been the stage of some mega 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 of relevance to the theme of the seminar 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, economy, and human ecology. Students study the nature of dominant International Relations paradigm in the Middle East and geopolitical discourse. In Istanbul, students learn from local academics how Turkey has become a strong geopolitical regional player in Middle Eastern politics and international relations, and the extent to which Turkey is influencing the future political arena of the Middle East. This seminar includes classroom activities (lectures and reading assignments) and incorporates educational excursions, visits to organizations, agencies, critical thinking exercises, voluntary work, and field-based assignments. The Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East seminar has an interdisciplinary, integrative, and critical focus.

The Psychology of Peace

The Psychology of Peace – syllabus
(MDES/PSYC3500 / 3 credits)

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
Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus

(ARAB1003-1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus

(ARAB2003-2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus

(ARAB3003-3503 / 3 credits)


Beginning Modern Standard Arabic
Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus

(ARAB1006-1506 / 6 credits)

Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus

(ARAB2006-2506 / 6 credits)

Advanced Modern Standard Arabic
Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus

(ARAB3006-3506 / 6 credits)

The language course is offered at different levels: Choose to take either two thematic seminars and a 3-credit Arabic language course OR the thematic seminar course, Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East, and a six-credit Arabic language course. 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.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

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.

Independent Study Project or Internship

In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

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.

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

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.


Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

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.

Sample internships:

  • 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



You’ll live with a homestay family in West Amman for the entire 12-week program except during excursions. The homestay is a unique opportunity to become a member of an Arabic family, share meals with them, and take part in special occasions. Jordan is known for its warm hospitality. You’ll be immersed in Arabic culture and will gain an understanding of your host family’s perspectives and values — all while practicing your Arabic language skills.

Most homestay families are middle class and maintain the customs of a typical Arab home. Some homestay families are first- or second-generation Palestinians who are an integral part of the country’s social and cultural fabric. You may get to experience a Jordanian wedding or other traditional cultural activity in addition to family outings.

Excursion & Orientation Accommodations

Hostels and small hotels

Career Paths

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

Faculty & Staff

Jordan: Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East

Raed Al-Tabini, PhD bio link
Raed Al-Tabini, PhD
Academic Director
Ashraf Alqudah, PhD bio link
Ashraf Alqudah, PhD
Academic Coordinator
Riham Al-Naimat, MA bio link
Riham Al-Naimat, MA
Language Instructor and Coordinator
Sakhaa Bataineh bio link
Sakhaa Bataineh
Program Assistant
Ghada Khalil, PhD bio link
Ghada Khalil, PhD
Arabic Instructor
Waleed Al Anati, PhD bio link
Waleed Al Anati, PhD
Language Instructor

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    SIT Jordan: Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the ME


SIT Jordan students visit a Syrian refugee media organization in Turkey