Class Profile: PLSC 291 analyzes political science of Middle Eastern conflicts

Assistant professor of political science and international relations Raslan Ibrahim is a newer addition to the political science program here at Geneseo. Ibrahim’s expertise and passion especially comes through when he teaches PLSC 291: War and Peace in the Middle East. 

His unique teaching style exposes students to the historical knowledge and analytical tools necessary to think critically about conflicts in the Middle East. 

The first half of the course is dominated by the origins and implications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the international relations theories necessary to understand it. The second half of the course deals with the history of the civil war in Iraq and the ongoing Syrian and Yemeni civil wars. 

Students interested in taking this course should be prepared to develop a critical perspective on the conflicts in the Middle East. 

“When you hear in the media about the Middle East, a lot of that is just grazing the surface,” Ibrahim said. “The goal of this class is to go deeper and to understand the driving forces of politics and conflict in the Middle East. For example, when we discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we look at the history, ideologies and identities that are involved, we see how many different factors are actually involved in this conflict. The student gets a much deeper perspective about similar conflicts in the Middle East.”

Ibrahim assigns thought-provoking readings about these issues and provides articles with different viewpoints to keep things balanced. He will often divide the class into discussion groups which allows the students to break down their assigned readings with their peers.

Ibrahim believes that these discussion groups help students to learn not only from him, but from other students. Alternating between lectures and class discussions is an interesting teaching method and really keeps the students engaged. 

“I truly believe that I, as a teacher, learn from my students,” Ibrahim said. “I try to make the class a safe place for the student to freely express their own views and understandings of the readings. I’ve enjoyed it a lot, listening to the students and their perspectives.” 

In the classroom, it’s obvious to students that Ibrahim is passionate about his work and is truly rooting for their success in the course. 

“My favorite part about teaching the class is the students. This is what keeps me going, actually,” Ibrahim said. “I love my interaction with the students and to see that they are excited to learn about the topic. It’s very satisfying to see students engaging in the class, learning in the class, raising questions in the class. It makes me happy.”

Political science major senior Amanda Drantch is currently enrolled in PLSC 291 and has found Ibrahim’s class enjoyable and informative. 

“I really like his lecture style,” Drantch said. “I also like that I’m getting firsthand experience from someone originally from the Middle East.”  

Ibrahim’s course provides students with valuable insight into the conflicts going on in the Middle East through captivating readings and an unconventional teaching method. Upon completion of this course, students will be equipped with critical thinking skills to last a lifetime.