Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

MECS 101: Middle Eastern Culture And Society I

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  Course Description

 This course begins a survey of Middle Eastern culture. It explores formative events and institutions that have shaped Middle Eastern culture with an emphasis on the manner in which East and West meet and perceive their respective cultures.  The course is designed to be taken in sequence with MECS 102 as an intensive study of the people of the Middle East.  Meets multicultural graduation requirement.

Prerequisite: None

Proctored Exams: Final


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Goldschmidt, Arthur. (2016). A Concise History of the Middle East (11th ed). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.  eText

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Returns: Students who drop a course with physical course materials will be responsible for returning those items to Ed Map within 30 days of receipt of the order.  More specific information on how to do so will be included in the package received from Ed Map.  See here for Ed Map's return policy. Failure to return physical items from a dropped course will result in a charge to the student account for all unreturned items.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

In this course we will explore the major events that shaped and led to the development of the Modern Middle East and its many diverse cultural traditions.

We will first consider the importance of history and how popular media has shaped our perceptions of the Middle East before delving into the geographic and historic developments that led to the creation of the region, as we know it today.

We will also spend a great deal of time discussing Islam and its history. Contrary to popular opinion, the Middle East is neither entirely Muslim, nor entirely Arab. It is a diverse region with rich cultural histories from a plethora of traditions, but Islam has shaped and reshaped the cultures of the region to a greater degree than any other factor.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe social, political, and economic forces that have created a culture.
  2. Describe characteristics of a culture.
  3. Articulate a sense of cultural identity in relation to the particular culture studied.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 355-394 90-100%
B 315-354 80-89%
C 276-314 70-79%
D 236-275 60-69%
F 0-235 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Weekly Discussions (9) 24 6%
Weekly Assignments (7) 70 18%
Midterm Exam 100 25%
Final Paper 100 25%
Final Exam 100 25%
Total 394 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1: Introduction -- Wednesday
Discussion 2 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 1 10 Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 2 10 Sunday
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 4 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 3 10 Sunday
Final Paper Topic Selection --

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 4 10 Sunday
Midterm Exam 100

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 5 10 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 6 10 Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 8 3 Wednesday/Sunday
Weekly Assignment 7 10 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 3 Wednesday/Saturday
Final Paper 100 Wednesday
Final Exam 100 Saturday
Total Points: 394

  Assignment Overview

Weekly Discussions

Posts are meant to be conversational. Students should be active participants in the discussions and use them to get ideas off of each other in a respectful manner. The instructor does not require a minimum number of responses.  The instructor expects the students to be informed adult learners ready to participate in a lively intellectual discussion. All statements of fact should be supported by peer-reviewed sources. The initial post is to be submitted by Wednesday 11:59 p.m. CT. Response post is to be submitted by Saturday 11:59 p.m. CT. Your grade for all discussions in the course will be based on the quality of your contribution to the discussion.

Weekly Assignments

There are seven short essay (250 words or less) assignments that must be completed and posted to the Dropbox in D2L by 11:59 p.m. CT, Saturday, of each assigned week.  Each assignment will be graded according to the rubric present in the rubric section of this course.  Each short written assignment will be worth 10 points, assigned on the basis of percentage of completeness, correct spelling, and neatness, originality, content and focus on the assignment. Papers should have headings, assignment number and title and be double-spaced with 12-point font. All weekly assignments are due 11:59 p.m. CT, Saturday of each week. All Dropbox assignments in this course should be uploaded in .doc, .pdf, or .rtf format.

When citing resources, you should adhere strictly to APA, MLA or Chicago styles. You may use either of these three so long as you use them consistently and correctly. All assignments should be your own original work and you are not allowed to turn in papers for this course that you have used previously for another course (even if it is from taking this very course during a previous session). Be careful to not confuse anecdotal evidence with peer-reviewed evidence and keep in mind that a nation in crisis differs greatly from a nation at peace.

Final Paper

The Final paper should be between 5-7 pages in length (not including your abstract, title page, or works cited sections). All papers must be double spaced, 12-point font, have a cover page and bibliography or works cited page and be written in APA, MLA, or Chicago style.

The final paper will be worth 100 points assigned on the basis of percent of completeness, correct spelling, neatness, originality and content. The paper should be written in Times New Roman font. The paper is worth approximately 25% of your final grade. You may choose a topic of your own. You must submit it to the appropriate Dropbox folder for instructor approval by Saturday of Week 3. Describe the subject and how you chose it. The Final paper is due by 11: 59 p.m. CT, Wednesday of Week 8.


There will be a non-proctored Midterm in week 4 that will cover the readings from weeks 1-4. Final exam will be proctored in week 8 and will cover material from weeks 1-8. Each exam will be worth 100 points. Submit the “Student Proctor Information Submission Form” to the Proctor Information Dropbox located in the Content area of the course by Sunday of week 2.

Students will have one (2) hours to complete each exam and will have a single attempt. Both exams will consist of 5 true and false questions, 5 multiple choice questions and 2 essay questions. Each question should be answered carefully and thoroughly in no less than 250 words. You may be tested on anything found in the readings and the online presentations.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

  • Goldschmidt: pp. 1-22, Overview and geography presentation.
  • Hollywood Arabs, Jack Shaheen (video in Content area)
Discussion 1: Introduction
Please take a moment to introduce yourself. Share your motivation for studying Middle Eastern culture and society.
Discussion 2
What is history? How does an understanding of where we came from inform us of where we are today?
Weekly Assignment 1

In 250 words or less discuss Dr. Sheehan’s views on the portrayal of Arabs and the Middle East in Western films and media. The video can be found in instructional material of week 1.

  • Goldschmidt: pp. 23-42
  • The life of  Muhammad (video in Content area)
Discussion 3

Share your impression of the film “The life of  Muhammad (BBC) .” The video can be found in the Multimedia section of Week 2 instructional materials.

Weekly Assignment 2

In 250 words discuss the five pillars of Islam and their importance to Muslims.

Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
  • Goldschmidt: pp. 44-59
  • Ashura 2015 (video in Content area)
Discussion 4

Share your impressions of the short film: Ashura 2015: Millions gather in Iraq to Commemorate the Death of Hussein. The video can be found in the Multimedia section of week 3 instructional materials.

Weekly Assignment 3

In 250 words discuss one of four “rightly guided caliphs” and his contribution to the early Islamic Empire.

Final Paper Topic Selection

Choose a topic of your own for the Final Paper and submit it to the appropriate Dropbox folder for Instructor approval Saturday 11:59 p.m. CT. Describe the subject and how you chose it.

  • Goldschmidt: pp. 60-73
  • Edward Said Conversations with Bill Moyer (video in Content area)
Discussion 5

Share your thoughts on Edward Said’s interview with Bill Moyer.

Weekly Assignment 4

In 250 words discuss the Abbasid Revolution and the tensions that led to it.

Midterm Exam

The Midterm exam will consist of 5 true and false questions, 5 multiple choice questions and 2 essay questions. You have 2 hours to complete the exam and you can attempt it only once. The exam will not be proctored. It is worth 100 points. It will cover the readings from weeks 1-4. Each essay question should be answered carefully and thoroughly in no less than 250 words. You may be tested on anything found in the readings and the online presentations.

  • Goldschmidt: pp. 74-91
  • The Crusades (video in Content area)
  • Nakshibendu Sufi Hadra - "Tala'al Badru Alayna" (video in Content area)
Discussion 5

Share your thoughts on The Crusades. The video can be found in the Multimedia section of week 5 instructional materials.

Weekly Assignment 5

In 250 words discuss the impact of the Mongol invasion and/or the Crusader campaigns. It was said by a Sufi Sheikh, “the land of Iraq is sacred and that whoever touches it soil departs changed.” This was certainly true of the Mongols. They made the Euphrates “run red with blood and then black with ink (from the libraries they destroyed)” but left Iraq after a few generations converted to the religion of Islam.

  • Goldschmidt: pp. 92-111
  • Dr. Jonathan Brown lecture on shariah in the modern world (video in Content area)
Discussion 7

Share your thoughts on Dr. Jonathan Brown’s lecture on shariah and the modern world. Did anything surprise you? Is it what you expected it to be? The video can be found in the Multimedia section of week 6 instructional materials.

Weekly Assignment 6

In 250 words or less discuss the intellectual and cultural life that characterized Islamic society as described by Goldschmidt.

Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
  • Goldschmidt: pp. 112-136
  • The History of the Ottoman Empire (video in Content area)
  • Rise of the Turks (video in Content area)
Discussion 8

Were you aware that there was a ruling Muslim Caliph up until 1908 and that the Islamic empire had a modern Navy with warships built at ship works in Great Britain?

Were the Muslims, in your opinion, better off under a single empire or as modern nation states like we see today?

Weekly Assignment 7
In 250 words discuss the rise of the Ottoman Empire and its influence on the Middle East a whole.
  • Goldschmidt: pp. 137-148
Discussion 9

View the slideshow presentation titled “Prominent Sites in the Middle East and Key Sites in Islam.” 

Choose one of the sites and discuss its relevance to the Middle East today.

Final Paper

Submit your Final Paper based on the topic you chose and was approved of by the Instructor in Week 3. The Final Paper should be between 5-7 pages in length (not including your abstract, title page, or works cited sections). The Final paper is due by 11: 59 p.m. CT, Wednesday of Week 8.

Final Exam

The Final exam will consist of 5 true and false questions, 5 multiple choice questions and 2 essay questions. You have 2 hours to complete the exam and you can attempt it only once. The exam will be proctored. It is worth 100 points. It will cover the readings from weeks 1-8. Each essay question should be answered carefully and thoroughly in no less than 250 words. You may be tested on anything found in the readings and the online presentations.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, all required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.  Late paper submissions must be coordinated in advance with the instructor. Exceptions will only be granted in the case of a documented emergency or unexpected military service.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.