Undergraduate Catalog

Middle East and North African Studies

Director: Oren Kosansky
Administrative Coordinator: Terry Moore

The Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) minor offers students the opportunity to explore diverse aspects of this region from an interdisciplinary perspective. The program is anchored in core courses that focus on culture, religion, and politics in North Africa and the Middle East. Minor students typically enroll in Arabic language courses and also pursue a range of electives across the humanities and social sciences. The Lewis & Clark overseas program in Morocco provides opportunity for students to extend their studies and learning experiences within the region. The minor culminates in a capstone project that encourages students to integrate their minor with other facets of a liberal arts education at Lewis & Clark.

The interdisciplinary minor is supervised by a group of faculty from several departments. Student advising is provided by faculty teaching core courses in the program.

The minor is designed to guide students in the pursuit of the following learning outcomes:

  • Understand the merits and limitations of conceptualizing the Middle East and North Africa as a region of study.
  • Gain knowledge of the historical, cultural, political, and linguistic processes that have forged the region in its global contexts.
  • Demonstrate mastery of intermediate Arabic language skills (or, in some cases, another regionally significant language).
  • Appreciate how complementary and competing academic approaches to the Middle East and North Africa condition an interdisciplinary understanding of the region.
  • Develop a foundation for continued study of the Middle East and North Africa and for applied work in the region.

Minor Requirements

A minimum of 20 credits, distributed as follows:

  • ARB 201 Intermediate Arabic I, ARB 202 Intermediate Arabic II, or the equivalent level in a Hebrew, Turkish, or Persian language.*

  • Two courses, from different departments, chosen from the following list.

    IA 290Middle East Politics
    RELS 273Islamic Origins
    RELS 274Islam in the Modern World
    SOAN 285Culture and Power in the Middle East
  • Eight additional semester credits selected from the list of approved electives below.

  • Capstone project completed under the supervision of the minor advisor.

Approved Electives

ARB 202Intermediate Arabic II (may apply only once to minor)
Overseas Programs
IS 215Morocco: Development & Sustainability
IS 216Moroccan Modernity
IS 217Gender and Society in Morocco
FREN 330Francophone Literature (when focus is MENA)
FREN 350Topics in French and Francophone Literature (when focus is MENA)
HIST 217The Emergence of Modern South Asia
HIST 259India in the Age of Empire
HIST 325History of Islam in Europe
HIST 328The British Empire
International Affairs
IA 290Middle East Politics (may only be used once within the minor)
Religious Studies
RELS 224Jewish Origins
RELS 225Christian Origins
RELS 273Islamic Origins (may only be used once within the minor)
RELS 274Islam in the Modern World (may only be used once within the minor)
RELS 355Sufism: Islamic Mysticism
RELS 450Seminar: Social and Religious World of Early Judaism and Christianity
RELS 453Seminar in Islamic Studies: Islamic Law
SOAN 285Culture and Power in the Middle East (may only be used once within the minor)
SOAN 360Colonialism and Postcolonialism

MENA-themed courses offered at Reed College may be applied as elective courses with the approval of the MENA program director. Please consult the Reed College catalog for specific course offerings.

At least 12 semester credits must be exclusive to the minor (may not be used in any other set of major or minor requirements). In addition, at least 12 credits for the minor must be taken at Lewis & Clark.

*Students who have placed into an Arabic language level beyond ARB 202 may substitute an additional approved elective course to complete the minor. Students using a language not taught at Lewis & Clark must submit official transfer credit or proof of placement from a regionally accredited institution.


Adelaide Byrum. Instructor in Arabic. Arabic language. MA 2013 University of Michigan. BA 2009 Georgetown University.

Oren Kosansky. Associate professor of anthropology, program director of Middle East/North Africa Studies. Political economy of religious experience, postcolonial nationalism and diaspora, textual culture, Morocco. PhD 2003, MA 1994 University of Michigan. MAT 1990 Binghamton University. BA 1988 Brown University.

Cyrus Partovi. Senior lecturer in social sciences. Middle East politics, U.S. foreign policy, diplomacy, the United Nations. MALD 1969, MA 1968 The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. BA 1967 Lewis & Clark College.

Paul R. Powers. Associate professor of religious studies. Islamic studies. PhD 2001, MA 1992 University of Chicago Divinity School. BA 1990 Carleton College.