Kent State professor specializes in middle eastern studies

Gabrielle Woodard

A political science professor who specializes in middle eastern studies stresses that his true Egyptian experience is not like the news depicts.

With all of the unrest in the Middle East, associate professor Josh Stacher is trying to change people’s opinion about the region as a resident of Egypt from 1998-2008.

In his classes Stacher spends a lot of time explaining his experience in Egypt.

“I spend a lot of time deprogramming students what they have absorbed in the U.S.,” he said.

Safe Spaces

Stacher is one of the faculty organizers for the Safe Spaces speaker series produced by the Political Science Department. The Safe Spaces speaker series has been going on throughout the fall 2015 semester.

The events are to provide a place to talk about controversial topics and provide a safe place to discuss issues including Native Americans involving sports mascots, Black Lives Matter, race relations and other controversial topics. Julie Mazzei is another faculty organizer for the events, “we hope the students walk away more informed and understand how things interact,” said Mazzei.  

United States and the Middle East

Stacher is a founding member of The Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies. The NOCMES is comprised of “leading Cleveland-area secondary education and collegiate institutions, seeks to bring the latest scholarship on the Middle East to Northeast Ohio,” according to NOCMES’ website.

If there were a chance for reversal of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, it would have to be made in the reaction to 9/11 and the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. Stacher said he believes problems in the Middle East began after WWI and state lines were drawn.

He tries to get his students to look at the Middle East differently than they did before taking his class.

Wilson Center Research

The Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars is a research center in Washington, D.C. for scholars studying a multitude of topics. Stacher was a Fellow at the Wilson Center from 2012 to 2013. Stacher researched for his book about Egypt’s transition after Mubarak while at the Wilson Center.

“Writing helps you contribute something to help influence people who are on this journey,” Stacher said.

Stacher also authored “Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt & Syria” along with several journal articles. Stacher has also done written commentary and made media appearances for NPR, CNN, ABC, Al-Jazeera and Foreign Affairs.


“Egyptians made me understand where I came from more than America ever did,” Stacher said when talking about his experience living in Egypt.

Stacher became interested in studying the Middle East his senior year of college when he studied abroad in Egypt. Stacher was in Egypt when Islamic militants outside of an Egyptian Temple killed 60 tourists.

“Egypt changed how I interact with everyone…Egypt was clarifying for my life,” Stacher said.

Miles Wilburn, a senior political science major, encourages others to take classes with Stacher.

“I would definitely recommend others take his class, he really makes students in his class think critically about the Middle East,” he said.

Gabrielle Woodard is the arts and sciences reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].