MESA Undergraduate Education Award

Julia Clancy-Smith and Charles D. Smith

University of Arizona

2013 Recipient

Julia Clancy-Smith and Charles D. Smith

Julia Clancy-Smith and Charles D. Smith

MESA’s Committee for Undergraduate Middle East Studies (CUMES) has created a new award in undergraduate education, which recognizes contributions in the area of teaching and learning in MES.  The award identifies pedagogical contributions that inform, enliven, inspire and create enthusiasm for students.  The selection committee consisted of Drs. David Buchman (chair), Maia Carter Hallward, and Kambiz GhaneaBassiri.   The nominees showed the variety of sophisticated efforts being made to advance undergraduate education in MES. 

This first year of the Undergraduate Education Award goes to Drs. Julia Clancy-Smith and Charles D. Smith for their volume titled The Modern Middle East and North Africa: A History in Documents.  This innovative undergraduate text is part of a new series of world historical volumes that utilize a mix of documents such as photographs, posters, dairies, diplomatic records, archival sources, and literary works, as primary sources to introduce the student not only to the topic of modern history in the MENA region, but to historical methodology.  Committee members noted that there is a “good explanation at the front [of the book] about primary sources and documents and how to use them;” and that it provides a “mix of sources” combining “teaching/summary material throughout … for a combination of diverse documents” and their various interpretations.  Additionally, this volume makes contributions to women and gender studies allowing hands on reflection for the students in challenging the negative stereotypes associated with this part of the world.  We also noted that this volume is “distinctive for the way it situates MENA in the larger context of world history, allowing people who normally don’t work on MENA to incorporate sources from MENA into their courses.”  And it “does a great job of showing both the diversity of MENA and social networks and political, cultural, and economic structures that unify the region.”  While rigorous in its content, the book can be of use from the advanced AP HS level student to upper level undergraduate courses.

In sum, while many of our nominees made wonderful contributions to pedagogy in various ways, this volume’s substantial and practical contribution to advancing the study of MENA for undergraduates deserves recognition as the recipient of this award.

2013 Review Committee
David Buchman (chair), Hanover College
Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Reed College
Maia Carter Hallward, Kennesaw State University

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