The Understanding the Middle East: Regional and International Identities, Interests, and Strategies program aims to enable students to achieve a clear understanding of the main issues that have shaped and are characterising the politics of the region, its role in contemporary international politics, as well as the strategies employed by the main international actors towards it. The program also aims to investigate the usefulness and the shortcomings of (‘Western’) international relations and political science approaches and concepts to the region, highlighting both the differences and similarities between the Middle East and other political areas.
The 3 week course will combine lectures, in-class debates, and a role-play activity. You will be asked to choose a political actor from among the suggested ones and:
- Study it in depth and provide a position paper on it (deadline: end of the first week);
- Briefly present the position paper during classes;
- Play the role of that political actor during the course by developing strategies and implementing regional policies according to the rules set by the instructor.
After the first week of the course, you will be encouraged to play the role of your chosen political actor and try to achieve its aims inside and outside of class. At the end of the second week, the resulting fictional regional order will be discussed in class. During the third week, you will be asked to develop new strategies in order to adapt to changes in variables as modified by the instructor, and to prepare for a fictional UN-sponsored conference on Middle Eastern Regional Order, which will take place at the end of the course.
** The program details are subject to change **
First week – Theoretical and empirical background
- Introduction and overview of the course
- Is the Middle East really the centre of international politics?
- The modern Middle East: Creation, boundaries, and ‘fault-lines’
- International Relations Theory and the Middle East
- Essential concepts: Power, security, order, nation
- Historical and analytical elements for an understanding of Islam as a political phenomenon
- ‘Orientalism’, ‘Westoxication’ and ‘Occidentalism’
- In class debate: The legacy of history in the contemporary middle east
Second week – Established features of middle eastern regional order
- The ‘curse of black gold’, conflict and cooperation
- Ideologies and Islam
Third week – The contemporary middle east
- In class debate: A democratic or an Islamist ‘wave’? Discussing Middle Eastern ‘civil revolts’
- In class debate: The Israeli-Palestinian (Arab) conflict
- The ‘Syrian spill-over’: A regional or international challenge?
- the European Union and the ‘Mediterranean’
- The United States and the Middle East between change and continuity
- In class debate: Role-play assessment: The (fictional) Middle Eastern regional order
- New or ‘returning’ international powers
- The changing Middle Eastern regional order: Iran, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia
- The changing Middle Eastern regional order: The failing states
- The changing Middle Eastern regional order: The non-state actors
- In class role-play: The fictional un-sponsored conference on Middle Eastern regional order
- ‘Wrapping up’: The political order of the Middle East
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (also known as UCSC or UNICATT) is an Italian private research university and was founded in 1921. Cattolica is the largest private university in Europe. Its main campus is located in Milan, with satellite campuses in Brescia, Piacenza, Cremona, Rome and Campobasso. The Milan campus, situated in the heart of Milan’s St. Ambrose district, is characterised by chapels and great halls which mark the university’s original use as a monastery as far back as the 8th century. UCSC has been awarded 5 stars by international university ranking system, QS Stars, and has been noted as the fourth most recommended university to attend by international students. Gain first hand exposure to the European perspective on international relations by living in Europe itself and learning about regional concerns in context.
Alessandro Quarenghi is a lecturer in International Politics at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, where he teaches subjects on International Relations and International Relations of the Middle East. He holds a degree in Law, a PhD in International Relations, a Specialisation in International Economics and Politics, and Masters Degrees in Postcolonial Politics and Cross-cultural Mediation. His work focuses on Middle Eastern Order, regional security issues, Democratisation processes, and regional cooperation.
Students will be staying in dorm style accommodation and will be sharing a room with at least one other student. The accommodation is roughly 20 minutes away (metro and walking) from the University. All rooms have WiFi and a private bathroom as well as kitchen facilities.
Hear the experiences of other students on this program
“Milan was a beautiful city to be able to study in for 3 weeks. As you can imagine, the food in Italy was incredible! The architecture was also amazing and Italian culture and religion are so different to anything I’ve experienced at home. From exploring churches and viewing the Last Supper painting, Milan was really able to keep us busy! Being the fashion capital of the world, studying in Milan gave us the opportunity to explore the high-end retailers in the city centre. To clarify nothing was purchased- we were simply window shopping! Watching an Inter Milan football game was really a once in a lifetime experience, as were the cocktails we drank on the rooftop overlooking the city.”
- Elysse Anderson, Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws Honours READ MORE
The city of Milan has an ancient cultural heritage and legacy. Modern Milan is recognised as a world fashion and design capital, with a major influence in commerce, industry, music, sport, literature, art and media. The city remains one of Europe’s main transportation and industrial hubs, making it one of the most dynamic and cosmopolitan cities in Europe.
Milan boasts long experience of public transport: its first street cars date back to 1841. Today, the wide assortment of trams, buses, trolley-buses and the three lines of the subway makes it easy to get to almost every corner of town. The Fiera Milano City, for instance, is on the red subway line 1 (direction Rho Fiera, Amendola Fiera stop).
Tickets (Euro 1.5) are not on sale on vehicles: you can buy them at most newsstands and in some bars. You can use a ticket for 90 minutes on as many trams and buses as you like, but only once on the subway. Tickets to reach some suburban subway stations (Rho and Rho Fiera, the two stops for Milanofiori Assago, the three ones in Cologno, and towards Gessate beyond Cascina Gobba) are more expensive.
With a world-renowned reputation for its gastronomy, fashion and design, there is no shortage of shopping and eating opportunities in Milan. The city centre is home to most of Milan’s shopping, eating and entertainment. Some places of note:
Brera. This is one of the most exclusive and fashionable places in Milan, with an atmosphere vaguely reminiscent of Paris, with its artists, open-air coffee shops and sophisticated boutiques. This area, which could be described as “luxury Bohemian” includes Via Brera, Via Solferino, Via Pontaccio, Corso Garibaldi and Corso Como. Alongside it there are many eighteenth century palaces including Palazzo Brera at number 28 Corso Como that houses the famous Pinacoteca.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The gallery with its glass and iron structure was built around 1870 and is called the “salotto di Milano” (The Milan Lounge). It houses old coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and historical bookshops. Luxury shops sit side-by-side with fast-food outlets such as McDonalds.
Milan has won the 2015 Eurocities award for Innovations for its project on “Fewer cars, more shared spaces, better quality of life for all”. Read more on sharing mobility strategy in Milan.
All our programs are designed to count for credit as electives. However, it is up to your university to decide whether they will approve some credit for your participation in one of our programs. Normally it is a course convenor, Head of Department or program convenor who approves your credit.
Course convenors will not be able approve credit for a course unless you have a copy of the syllabus, so you should not visit your course convenor until you have received a copy of the course syllabus from AIM Overseas. You will receive this in your AIM Overseas acceptance pack, along with information about how to apply for credit at your university.
You might be able to obtain the $6000+ OS-HELP loan, as well as a scholarship from your university, when participating in an AIM Overseas program.
Our programs are designed so that eligible Australian students can access the OS-HELP scheme, which can provide funding of over $6,000 for international study experiences.
We give you detailed information about OS-HELP and how to apply for it in your Initial Consultation with us, as well as in your AIM Overseas acceptance pack.
Many Australian universities offer scholarships for their students to take part in overseas study programs. We will provide you information on scholarships that we are aware of at your university as part of your application/acceptance for a program. You can also check your university’s international office webpage to see what might be offered.
Applications are now open for this program. Early application is recommended as places are limited.
The steps to apply, and be accepted, for this program are as follows:
- Apply online
- You’ll be prompted to send us a copy of your full academic results
- We’ll review your results and application and, if we believe you are likely to be accepted for the program, will invite you to an initial consultation by phone with an advisor.
- You’ll pay our $55 application fee and book in your phone consultation with an advisor.
- The phone consultation lasts about 15 minutes and we’ll cover detailed information with you about credit, funding, the program, your application and what happens next.
- Once you return any necessary documents (which we’ll advise you of in the consultation), we’ll do a final review of your application. If all is in order, we’ll send you your AIM Overseas acceptance pack.
- Your acceptance pack will contain the course syllabus, steps on applying for credit and funding, and an invoice for the program deposit. Your place is secured once you’ve paid your deposit.
Programs are usually over-subscribed, so it is really important that you take care of things as quickly as possible. We’re here to help and will provide you with information and reminders about what you need to do at various stages.
For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions. Alternatively, you are welcome to submit an enquiry or register your interest, meaning you’ll receive updates (via email and phone) prior to the application deadline.