Middle East scholar shares effects on Arab Springs

Blair Donald

In 2010, a political eruption shook the Arab world. Groups of young political activists in Middle Eastern countries like Egypt, Lebanon and most recently Syria rose up in opposition to the totalitarian regimes controlling their countries. Today the Middle East is still caught in chaos and conflict, and it appears that no one has any idea what to do about it.

Joshua Stacher, an assistant professor of political science at Kent State, decided in 2010 that students in the United States did not know enough about the Middle East and the conflicts happening there. He and his colleagues at Cleveland State founded the Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies, which aims to educate a broader public through speakers and informal discussions.  

“We want to reach out into the community,” Stacher explained. “People that do professional research … sometimes we don’t leave our offices, we don’t leave our libraries, we don’t share with the general public.

“So the idea behind NOCMES is really just to get out into the communities in which we live and explain these complex situations in ways that people that are interested but don’t have time to do professional research on it can understand.”


Kent State graduates sit in on a discussion about the Arab uprisings with Professor Emeritus Michael Hudson (left) and Professor Joshua Stacher (right) on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Photo by Eslah Attar.

On Tuesday, Professor Michael Hudson spoke at The Student Center as part of the NOCMES speaker series. Hudson is a Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and the director of the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute. He spoke about the Arab Spring and the effect it has had on the Middle East and world.

“My goal is to demystify the Middle East for audiences that very often either have very little knowledge or rather distorted impressions about what the Middle East is,” Hudson said.

The NOCMES talk was organized as an “informal roundtable discussion,” according to Stacher. Students, faculty and anyone else interested were invited to listen and ask questions of Hudson and Stacher.

One student in attendance — freshman computer science major, Issac Park — said the talk enlightened him to the opinion of the political science community.

“Before I had basic knowledge [of the Arab Spring], generally I knew that it happened,” Park said. “It was interesting to learn that the Spring was unexpected for the intellectual community, I was unaware of how much it surprised them.”

The next NOCMES discussion will be held at Cleveland State University, with speaker Arang Keshivarian.

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].