Muslims in a Global Context

The Gulf States and Iran

Friday, April 5, 2013 - Sunday, April 7, 2013


The Gulf States and Iran

Class times:

5pm Friday April 5 to 12:15 pm Sunday, April 7, 2013 (Giant Eagle Auditorium, Baker Hall A51, Carnegie Mellon University)

This one credit mini-course is part of a series organized by regions around the world based on their role on the world stage, their importance within the Muslim world, and the critical influence they play in the global community. The series and course seeks to illuminate the various perspectives of the Muslim Community around the world. Drawing upon the expertise and research of participating faculty from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh and our partners at institutions around the world, the mini course series seeks to have students gain understanding of the religious, culture, economics and political influences of Muslims in a global context.

Course Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students will:

1. Gain an understanding of history, governance, economics, law, gender education and political dimensions of the peoples and regions focused for each mini course.

2. Explore one of these factors in depth, through a research paper.


Engaging the Muslim World - Cole, Juan, St, Martens Press (2009). This book is available at the University of Pittsburgh's Bookstore


The Muslims in the Global Context series offers the opportunity to examine the factors and trends that are having major impacts on these diverse regions and their relationships with other world regions and countries. The mini-courses consist of presentations on topics of critical importance to the understanding of Muslims in diverse regions of the world. In addition to attendance at all lectures, students enrolled for credit are required to develop and write a research paper on one of the themes of the mini-course and answer reflection prompts during the course. One- credit is provided for the completion of each mini-course.


Due to the immersive nature of the course, students are expected to attend all sessions on all three days. Further, each student will be required to read the assigned book and develop a research paper on one dimension of Muslims in a global context that has been introduced in class. The paper should be based on one of the topics covered in the course. The length of the research paper will be 5-10 pages, double spaced in 11 point font. Research papers are due by April 26, 2013 and should be submitted through the University of Pittsburgh's Courseweb assignment tab for the course.

Audit Option:

Carnegie Mellon students may also audit the course by attending all the sessions, but not writing the paper. You should be sure to process an audit form, both if you are auditing from the beginning or later if you have decided not to do a paper and want your status changed from credit to audit. Once the course has started students will be graded based on how they signed up for the course.

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh: Global Studies Center Carnegie Mellon University: Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs


Final Schedule

Friday, April 5 5:00 - 8:00pm

5:00 pm- 5:15 pm Brief Introductions and Welcome
5:15 pm- 5:30 pm Pre- evaluation survey
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm Lansiné Kaba, "Unity within Diversity or Diversity within Unity?"
6:30 pm- 6:45 pm  Break
6:45pm- 8:00 pm  Lansiné Kaba, "Islam as a Factor of Integration or Disunity?"

Saturday, April 6 8:30am - 6:45pm

8:30 am- 9:45 am   Rami el Samahy, "Cites of the Gulf:Old and New"( via video conferencing )
9:45 am - 10:00 am Break
10:00 am- 11:15 am Marina Tolmacheva, "Higher Education in GCC Countries: Access and Innovation"
11:15 am- 11:30 am Break
11:30 am- 12:45 pm Flynt Leverett, "Rethinking Iran: Foreign Policy, Domestic Policies, Economic Conditions, and Impact on Global Energy Balance" (via video conferencing)
12:45 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm - 3:15 pm Michael J.T. McMillen, "Law, Policy and Islamic Finance in Middle Eastern Jurisdictions: Interaction" 
3:15-pm - 3:30 pm Break
3:30 pm - 4:45 pm Marina Tolmacheva, "Women in the Arab Countries of the Gulf Region: the Ordinary and Extraordinary"
4:45 pm - 5:00 Break
5:00-pm - 6:15 pm Maggie Nassif, "The Second Generation Gulf Countries: Sixty Years of Oil"

Sunday, April 7, 9:00am - 12:00pm

9:00am- 10:15am Ambassador Dennis Jett, "Iran, the Persian Gulf and American Security"
10:15am -10:30 am Break
10:30 am - 11:45 am Sami Hermez, "The effects of the Gulf States on the Arab Spring"
11:45 am - 12:00 pm Conclusion and evaluation



Lansiné Kaba

Distinguished Visiting Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University at Qatar. He headed the Department of African American Studies from 1986 to 1995, and served as Dean of the Honors College from 1996 to 2001. He was President of the US /International/ African Studies Association from 1998 to 2001. He has received many awards and has lectured in many countries in Africa, Europe and the Middle East on both academic and current issues. His radio interviews and television appearances have made him a “public intellectual” in French-speaking Africa.

Rami el Samahy

Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, where he has been teaching since 2006. He holds joint appointments between the Carnegie Mellon campuses in Pittsburgh and Doha teaching architecture and urban design studios and seminars. Courses include the Urban Laboratory studio, Systems  Integration studio, Middle Eastern Cities and a course entitled “The Future of Cities / Cities of the Future.” Rami is a partner of the interdisciplinary design firm over,under (graphic design,  interior design, architecture and urban design) with projects in the Middle East, Central America and the United States. Current, projects include the Mayan Museum of America in Guatemala, design and curation of exhibitions for the Boston Society of Architects, and architectural design controls for Abu Dhabi’s new central business district. Rami holds degrees from Brown University (Bachelor of Art in International Relations), Princeton University (M. Art, Near Eastern Studies), and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (M. Architecture).

Marina Tolmacheva

Professor of History and past Director of the Asia Program at Washington State University. In 1998-2005 Tolmacheva served the WSU College of Liberal Arts as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. A specialist in medieval Arab history and Islamic civilization, she has authored and co-authored three books, contributed chapters to six more books and published over 50 articles and 90 book reviews in learned journals and encyclopedias. Her research explores the works of medieval Arab geographers and travelers, among them the famous Ibn Battuta. Tolmacheva writes about the ancient heritage of Arabic geography and cartography, especially Ptolemy's Geography, and researches the pilgrimage and travel in the pre-modern Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia. She has also published on Muslim women and on Islamic historiography of Africa and Central Asia. Tolmacheva received her undergraduate Degree with Distinction from St. Petersburg University and Ph.D. in History from the Russian Academy of Sciences. A recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, Tolmacheva has traveled to the Middle East and Asia since 1964 and served as lecturer and interpreter on more than 20 travel tours. In 1998 she was Visiting Professor at the pre-eminent French academic center, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. In 2003 Tolmacheva was awarded the Honorary Professorship (equivalent of honorary doctorate) by the Institute of Eastern Languages and Cultures of the National Pedagogical University of Kyrgyzstan. Twice a Fulbright Fellow (1994 to Kyrgyzstan, 2012 to Ukraine), and past Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in the Humanities (1992-93), she was also a Fellow of the Open Society Institute International Higher Education Support Program (2005-2006). In 2006-2009 Tolmacheva served as President of the American University of Kuwait.

Flynt Leverett

Professor Flynt Leverett is an expert on the Middle East and Persian Gulf, international energy affairs, and international security. A founding faculty member at Penn State's School of International Affairs, he is also a Visiting Scholar at Peking University, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, and a member of the faculty editorial board for the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs. With his wife and frequent co-author, Hillary Mann Leverett, he publishes, which has become a prominent online forum for interest-based, realist analysis regarding Iran and the broader Middle East. From 1992 to 2003, Professor Leverett had a distinguished career in the U.S. Government. He served for nine years as a senior analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, focusing on the Middle East. As a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, he earned a Superior Honor Award for his contributions to forming an international coalition to fight terrorism following the September 11 attacks. In 2002, he went to the White House to serve as the National Security Council's senior director for Middle East affairs; he left the George W. Bush Administration and government service in 2003 because of disagreements over Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror. Professor Leverett has written extensively on the politics, international relations, and political economy of the Middle East and Persian Gulf. His new book, Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, was published in January 2013 by Henry Holt's Metropolitan Books imprint. Even before publication, Going to Tehran was excerpted in Harper's, highlighted as a “New and Noteworthy” book by Politico, and featured in Foreign Policy's “What to Read in 2013” list. His first book, Inheriting Syria: Bashar's Trial By Fire (Brookings Institution Press, 2005), was a Foreign Affairs bestseller, was profiled in The Economist, and remains featured on Foreign Affairs' "What to Read on Syrian Politics" reading list. Professor Leverett has also authored analyses of the impact of energy market trends on international security, “resource mercantilism” in rising Asia, and Chinese engagement in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. He has been interviewed on major news outlets around the world, including Bloomberg/PBS's Charlie Rose, BBC's Doha Debates and HARDtalk, C-Span's Washington Journal, Al Jazeera (Arabic and English), NHK's Close Up Gendai, NPR, and PBS's Frontline and NewsHour, as well as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He has published opinion pieces in many high-profile venues, including Foreign Policy, The New York Times, Politico, and Reuters. Professor Leverett has testified before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has spoken at foreign ministries and strategic research institutes in Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. He has been a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University, and has given academic presentations at leading universities around the world, including Beijing (Peking University), Cambridge, Chicago, Georgetown, Harvard Law School, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Maryland, MIT, NYU, Tehran, Toronto, and Yale. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Michael McMillen

Partner of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. Michael is internationally recognized for his work in Islamic finance and project finance. His transactional work focuses on the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He publishes and speaks throughout the world on Islamic finance and project and infrastructure finance. He has twice been a recipient of the Euromoney award for Best Legal Advisor in Islamic Finance (2004 and 2007) and has also received the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum award for Best Legal Advisor in Islamic Finance for North America. He twice served as Chair (and was the founding Chair) of the Islamic Law Section, a division of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association. Michael has also been also active in the capital markets initiative of the Islamic Financial Services Board, focusing on securities and capital markets laws, the use of trusts and trust concepts in capital markets transactions, and the enforceability of the Shari’ah in different jurisdictions throughout the world.

Maggie Nassif 

PhD in Post-Colonial Theory from Cairo University, and a Masters in Comparative Literature from The American University in Cairo. She has graduate diplomas in Translation and Applied Linguistics/Foreign Language Teaching. In addition, Maggie Nassif has studied Business at the Wharton School of Business and ASU where she completed her MBA in 2005. She has taught Literature, Women's Studies, Writing, Translation, ESL and Business Culture. She has also held several executive positions as ESL Coordinator at the State University of New York, and Director of the Arabic Summer MBA Program for The Wharton School of Business/Lauder Institute. Maggie's main research interest is in cultural studies: women's issues, feminist literature, material culture, pop culture, and business culture in the Middle East. She has more recently been involved in research on vocational training and job preparedness in global markets for students in the 21st century.

Dennis Jett

Founding faculty member and professor of international affairs of the School of International Affairs at Pennsylvania State University. A former career diplomat, he served 28 years in the State Department in a wide range of positions including as Ambassador to Peru, Ambassador to Mozambique, on the National Security Council, as Deputy Chief of Mission in Malawi and Liberia, and in Argentina and Israel. From 2000 to 2008, he was Dean of the International Center, Director of the Transnational and Global Studies Center and on the faculty of the Political Science Department at the University of Florida. He has a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Witwatersrand and is the author of two books, “Why Peacekeeping Fails” and “Why American Foreign Policy Fails.” He has been interviewed on the Jim Lehrer News Hour, CNN, NPR, BBC and other national and international news programs. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy, he was written over 120 opinion pieces for major newspapers, the more recent of which can be found on his blog on the Huffington Post.

Sami Hermez

PhD in Anthropology from Princeton University and held a post-doctoral fellowship at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford. Dr. Hermez was also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient and the Collaborative Research Center, Humboldt University, both in Berlin. He has also taught at Mount Holyoke, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and at the American University of Beirut. Dr. Hermez has worked for the United Nations Capital Development Fund and its Development Program, Human Rights Watch and the Peace Corps. Broadly, Dr. Hermez’s work has focused on the relationship between violence during war and civil war and its subsequent impact on politics and everyday life. His dissertation reflected this interest, which focused on Living Everyday in Anticipation of Violence in Lebanon. He examined these issues from an anthropological perspective using ethnographic fieldwork to gather his data and evidence. Indeed, Dr. Hermez has conducted fieldwork or lived in countries in several world regions including the Middle East. These include Cyprus, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, the Philippines, Russia, the U.S. and Yemen. Other areas his research has touched include anthropology of the state; war and ethics; narrative, history and memory; legal anthropology; nationalism; globalization and migration; Arab identity; conflict resolution; and sectarianism, among others. Dr. Hermez’s current and future research includes a project that focuses on transnational labor law and the global trade of domestic workers to the Middle East. Dr. Hermez’s recent publications and paper presentations include “Activism as ‘Part-time’: Searching for Commitment and Solidarity in Lebanon” in Cultural Dynamics, and “From Feuds to Statehood: Dignity as a Political Emotion in Lebanon” at the American Anthropological Association 2011 Annual Meeting. In 2011 alone, he was interviewed by BBC Radio and Al-Jazeera International.


Registration is REQUIRED for University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University students and requested for teachers, community members and guests who are not taking the course for credit.

For students only: Once you are registered, you will be given access to the Muslims in a Global Context Blackboard/CourseWeb site that is hosted by the University of Pittsburgh, where you will find information on assignments and resources. 

Carnegie Mellon University Registration

Registration is REQUIRED for Carnegie Mellon University students. For any registrations, please contact Catherine Ribarchak at

University of Pittsburgh Registration

Registration is REQUIRED for University of Pittsburgh students. Students can register for this course up till February 15, 2013

University of Pittsburgh Registration 

For any inquiries please contact Veronica Dristas at

University of Pittsburgh students may register for the Gulg States and Iran mini course at no additional cost provided that they do not exceed the maximum number of credits for full-time enrollment. Full-time enrollment maximum credits vary with status and School. Students will be billed for credits exceeding their full or part-time allowable credits.

Community Registration

Registration is requested for community members and guests who are not taking the course for credit.

Who needs to register?
Registration is for count of attendance only, and is for guests who are NOT taking the course for credit.

How do I register?
Please click the link below and fill out the simple form:

Community Registration Form

Teacher Registration

This registration form is for teachers who would like to receive ACT 48 credit. To register please click the link and fill out the simple form:

Teacher Registration Form


Sponsored by:
University of Pittsburgh
Global Studies Center and the Political Science Department
Carnegie Mellon University: Office of the Provost, and Division of Student Affairs
Consortium for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies


Veronica Dristas Assistant Director of Outreach Global Studies Center University Center for International Studies (UCIS) University of Pittsburgh 4101 Wesley W. Posvar Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15260 412 624-2918412 624-2918 Cathy Ribarchak Administrative Assistant to Dr. Amy Burkert Office of the Vice Provost for Education Carnegie Mellon University 5000 Forbes Avenue 612A Warner Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890 412-268-8677412-268-8677 (voice) 412-268-2330412-268-2330 (fax) Contact the Global Studies Center: Phone: (412) 648-5085(412) 648-5085 Email: Mailing address: Global Studies Center University of Pittsburgh University Center for International Studies 4400 Wesley W. Posvar Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15260 USA

Lansiné Kaba
Rami el Samahy
Marina Tolmacheva
Flynt Leverett
Michael J.T. McMillen
Maggie Nassif
Ambassador Dennis Jett
Sami Hermez
Additional Resources

Lansiné Kaba

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  1. UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY OF DIVERSITY WITHIN UNITY? Prompt: Did the prophet and his companions deal with the rights of the minorities in Medina?  How?
  2. ISLAM AS A FACTOR OF INTEGRATION OR DISUNITY?  Prompt: In political terms, how do you describe the contemporary Arab Gulf States?

Rami el Samahy

Prompt: In what ways are cities in the Gulf similar and in what ways are they distinct?

PowerPoint Presentation: Iran - Cities of the Gulf Old and New

Part 1

Part 2


Marina Tolmacheva


  1. HIGHER EDUCATION THE GCC COUNTRIES: ACCESS AND INNOVATIONPrompt: Higher education in GCC countries has taken off. The future looks bright for local students, and many developed countries are interested in participating. Identify some current trends in higher education in the region and give examples of what appears to be the right model or course of action for the host countries. What do you think the new universities still need in order to achieve genuine success in producing not only knowledgeable students but educated citizens?
  2. WOMEN IN THE ARAB COUNTRIES OF THE GULF REGION: THE ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARYPrompt: Women Citizens of the GCC countries have achieved more than the American public often thinks. What have been the major areas and means of their advancement so far? What do you think will be needed in the near future to increase their success? 

PowerPoint Presentations:

  1. Higher Education
  2. Women

Reccomended Readings:

  1. Women's Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Gulf Edition
  2. Women in Gulf Politics: A Porgress Report
  3. Working Women in the Gulf Cooperation Council
  4. Migration of Women Workers from South Asia to the Gulf
  5. Trends shaping higher education in the Middle East and North Africa
  6. Continuing Expansion for Education in the Middle East
  7. Why is Qatar investing so much in education?
  8. Canceled Conference Revives Concerns About Academic Freedom in the Persian Gulf
  9. Studying the American Way An Assessment of American-Style Higher Education in Arab Countries

Flynt Leverett

Prompt: "Is the Islamic Republic of Iran a 'threat'--to the United States, to Israel, or to the free flow of Persian Gulf oil supplies to international energy markets?  If so, how?  If not, what does that say about U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic?"

Reccomended Readings:

  1. Leverett, F., & Leverett, H. (2012, November). The Mad Mullah Myth: The dangers of misunderstanding Iran's strategy. Harper's Magazine, pp 53-55.  (here)
  2. Leverett, F., & Leverett, H. (2013, February 5). Time to Face the Truth about Iran. The Nation. (here)


Michael J.T. McMillen

Prompt: Given the global dominance of interest-based banking financial and economic philosophies and related mechanisms, do you accept the proposition that a degree of “permissible variance” or “permissible impurity” from strict interpretations of the Sharīʿah, and associated “cleansing” or “purification” mechanisms, should be accepted at the current stage of development of the Islamic finance, investment and banking industries? Why or why not?

What mechanisms would you recommend for the development of these industries in light of your previous answers?

PowerPoint Presentation: Law, Policy, and Islamic Finance in the Middle Eastern Jurisdictions: Interactions

Suggested Readings: click to download pdf


Maggie Nassif

Prompt: Do the commonly used tools of returns on investments, full employment and self sustainability apply to GCC economies?

Other possible topics: Between excitement and skepticism over skyscrapers, museums, and ski slopes, how do you measure success in the Gulf?  What is really there beyond the real estate phenomenon in terms of potential and challenges?

PowerPoint Presentation: Business Landscape in the Gulf


Ambassador Dennis Jett

Prompt: If Iran develops the capability to produce a nuclear weapon, what should the United States do? What actions by Iran should trigger a U.S. attack?

PowerPoint Presentation: Iran, the Persian Gulf, and American Security

Reccomended Readings:

  1. Legal Experts: Stuxnet Attack on Iran Was Illegal ‘Act of Force’
  2. Sanctions, Military Strikes, and Other Potential Actions Against Iran
  3. Weighing Benefits and Costs of Military Actions Against Iran
  4. The Iran Debate: To Strike or Not to Strike
  5. The Weak Case for War with Iran
  6. Persian Gulf Oil & Gas Exports Fact Sheet
  7. Iran's nuclear scientists are not being assassinated. They are being murdered

Sami Hermez

Prompt: How have the Gulf monarchies been able to maintain control in the midst of the uprisings sweeping the region?

PowerPoint Presentation: The Effects of the Gulf States on the Arab Spring

Reccomended Readings:

  1. McJihad: Islam in the U.S. Global Order
  2. The GCC Countries and the Arab Spring.Between Outreach, Patronage and Repression
  3. Al-Rasheed, Madawi. Sectarianism as Counter-Revolution: Saudi Responses to the Arab Spring. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism. December 2011. 11(3): pp.513–526
  4. Cole, J. (2009). Ch. 1 & 3. In Engaging the Muslim world. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  5. Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark (2011, Al Jazeera English)


Additional Resources

  1. Muslims Lib Guide
  2. Middle East Lib Guide







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