Middle Eastern scholar incorporates journalistic experience in classroom

Assistant professor of international relations and political science Raslan Ibrahim worked as a journalist before becoming a professor, and continues to integrate his past career into his teaching methods. Ibrahim’s media background allows him to emphasize truth in his lesson plans. (Izzy Graziano/knights’ life editor)

Some people live more in a few years than others will in a lifetime. Assistant professor of international relations and political science Raslan Ibrahim, however, has vast experiences to share with his students, who can learn from his work both as an academic and a journalist.

Ibrahim mainly offers courses about the Middle East and human rights, which he has developed a deep understanding of over his career.

 Ibrahim traveled a long way to arrive at Geneseo. He started his career in journalism, where he reported for a few years as a correspondent in Israel. During his time there, Israel was in turmoil. 

He reported on incidents such as the Second Palestinian Intifada, an uprising by Palestinians against Israel that resulted in high civilian casualties. Ibrahim found the work challenging, but ultimately an edifying experience in the long run. 

“I learned a lot,” Ibrahim said. “I think you feel you are on a mission to bring the truth to those who listen.”  

This pursuit of knowledge led him to earn his doctorate in the United States while still working as a freelance journalist for BBC Arabic. 

While Ibrahim is teaching, he ensures to bring his journalistic roots into the classroom with him. He finds truth a key component in both fields. 

“It helps me to provide a lot of real examples from the Middle East, from the region that I covered, and the good thing about that is it tries to combine theory and practices,” he said.

This combination of the hypothetical and the reality of a situation is an essential part of the learning process. 

Despite pursuing truth, Ibrahim has never settled for one “truth.” Rather, in the classroom he prefers to “encourage the students to have a more critical perspective, in the sense of not taking any perspective as given or as natural, try to raise questions about it, try to see the strength and weaknesses of every perspective.”

Ibrahim believes a valuable classroom environment is one that encourages mutual learning, where he is just as likely to gain a meaningful perspective from students’ questions and comments, as he is to teach them something. 

Ibrahim has never stopped participating in journalism and broadcasting, yet now he finds himself there as the interviewee instead of the interviewer. More currently, Ibrahim was invited to BBC Arabic and Israel Public Radio to discuss the U.S.’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a highly contentious decision. 

His journey to Geneseo brought Ibrahim to several places such as Israel, Denver, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro and many others throughout the years, as both a teacher and a student. Surprisingly, he said he might actually feel more at home in a small town like Geneseo than a thriving metropolis. 

“I grew up in a very small town in the north of Israel,” Ibrahim said. “I really enjoy the sense of community here. I really also enjoy the kindness and the warmth of the people inside the campus as well as outside the campus.” 

Ibrahim is also deeply intrigued by the nature in this part of the U.S., and is looking forward to spring and summer in the area.

If you are interested in learning more about pressing issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or human rights, Ibrahim holds a selection of classes at varying levels. Next semester he will teach courses on Human Rights, International Politics of the Middle East and International Relations of the Middle East. 

Taking a class with Ibrahim allows students to participate in his quest for truth, in addition to learning from his multidisciplinary background. Hearing Ibrahim's life story also might inspire students to seek truth and adventure in their own lives.