GEOG 319 Geography of the Middle East & North Africa

Gurpinar, Istanbul
Instructor: Paul Kaldjian

Office: Phillips Hall 245
Phone: 836-2321/836-3244

Armenian Church on Kinali Adi







This course introduces students to the geography of the Middle East and North Africa). Specifically, students will learn how the geographic perspective helps us in understanding the diverse physical and human landscapes of the region stretching from Morocco through Iran, Turkey through Yemen. The geographical perspective explores environments, the arrangement of material (including symbolic) culture on the landscape, the emergence of regions and the interconnections between them, it tries to understand the relationships between people and their environments, and how those relationships change and affect a region over time. 

Specific emphasis will be placed on recognizing and responding to generalizations and stereotypes of the Middle East that are prevalent in the United States, misunderstandings that confound respectful and constructive interactions between the two regions.  It has recently been asserted that, despite the "tremendous resources  for enhancing our geographic awareness and global understanding, most Americans -- living in a Global Age -- continues to possess little more than a Stone Age awareness of the world around them (Charles Gritzner, Journal of Geography, 102:90-91, 2003)."  This course is designed to excite students' geographic awareness and to encourage them to understand the importance of geography through learning about the peoples and places of the Middle East and North Africa.

Since an important objectives of the course include learning the framework used by geographers to examine the world, it will include learning some tools of geographical analysis and understanding fundamental theories and concepts in geography.According to the National Geography Standards developed in 1994, a geographically informed person should have the five skills listed below.  In addition to learning the specific geography of Middle East and North Africa, working on that skills that a geographically informed person knows underlie the course homework assignments and class discussions and lectures.