Middle Eastern Studies



Beginning in Spring 2021, students interested in declaring a minor in Middle East Studies should do so through a concentration within the Asian Studies department. Please visit the Asian Studies website for more information, and be in touch with one of the affiliated faculty with additional questions. The MES minor will no longer be offered for students matriculating in the fall of 2021 and later.

The Middle East Studies minor offers students an interdisciplinary and historically-grounded understanding of the societies, polities, economies, and cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. It can be fruitfully combined with a wide range of disciplinary majors to prepare students for work or graduate study, with the ability to think critically and constructively about the region’s internal dynamics and relationship(s) to other regional and global communities.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Middle Eastern Studies a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Middle East Studies or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

Click for the Course Catalogue


Requirements for the Minor

interdisciplinary, 6 courses

The minor consists of three core courses and three electives. No more than three courses from one division may be counted toward the minor. Students may choose to take the fourth core course as one of their electives, and may count one of the available regional language courses (Arabic, Hebrew, or French) at or above the equivalent of the fourth semester. Courses taken abroad on non-HWS programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Other relevant courses offered less frequently may be counted toward the minor in consultation with the minor adviser.


POL 285 International Politics of the Middle East


Examine international politics in the Middle East in the late colonial and post-colonial periods, focusing on the relationships between states, societies, and markets. Later, enroll in HIST 285 The Middle East: Roots of Conflict to delve deeper into relationships in the Middle East.

REL 219 Introduction to the Islamic Religious Tradition


Learn about the rise of Islam from seventh century Arabia to the current global context, and study basic beliefs, major figures, sacred scriptures, and rituals of this religious tradition. Then, compare it to religion in the U.S. by taking SOC 244 Religion in American Society.

ARTH 249 Islamic Art and Architecture


Study Islamic art and architecture from its beginnings in classical Mediterranean media and forms to the expression of autonomous stylistic developments and the impact of colonialism and post colonialism. Explore the western colonialist response to the Islamic world, the subsequent Islamic response to western art styles. Continue exploring art by taking ARTH 282 20th Century American Art.



Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.