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Comparative and Regional Studies | SIS



Marianne Menius
Program Coordinator
SIS 335B


Themes and Regions

Thematic Concentrations

The CRS thematic concentrations are:

  • Political Economy and Development
  • Governance and Democracy
  • Foreign Policy and Security
  • Nationalism, Identity, and Ideology
  • Social Movements, Conflict, and Revolution
  • Globalization, Regionalism, and Local Communities

Other potential thematic concentrations include:

  • Colonialism and Post-Colonialism
  • Urban Politics and Immigration
  • Conflict and Development

Regional Concentrations

Africa: Covering North Africa as well as states south of the Sahara, the study of Africa has four broad themes: state, society, economy, and international affairs. African states have grappled with the need for effective institutions, responsive political processes, and accountable leadership. The problems of autocracy and difficulties of democratic development are acute. The course offerings on the nature of African societies pose important questions such as the context of governance, the roles of civil society, and ethnic and communal diversity.

The Americas: The Americas includes the 35 independent states and other overseas territories of North American, South America and the Caribbean. The course offerings on the historical and growing interconnectedness of the countries of the Americas explore the evolution of United States-Latin American relations and domestic politics in the region. More topical courses address issues such as the historical genesis of race relations and their impact today, the evolution of the Cold War and its impact on the region, the transnationalization of the War on Drugs, and the impact of neoliberal economic policies.

Asia-Pacific: The Asia-Pacific region covers approximately 25 countries and all major sub-regions including East Asia, South Asia (including Afghanistan) and Southeast Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand. By examining Asia as a broad geographic region centered around the Pacific and Indian Oceans, students are able to engage with an array of issues ranging from democratization, migration and trafficking, and human rights to regional governance, international security, and great power relations. The course offerings focus on the foreign policy of major actors within Asia-Pacific, including China, Japan, Korea, and the United States, as well as governance and security issues within Asia.

Europe and Eurasia: The Europe and Eurasia regional focus extends the traditional focus on Western Europe and the EU eastward by including the blend of European and Asian cultures that has shaped the development of Russia and Central Eurasia. This dynamic world region includes Turkey, Russia and other post-Soviet countries that form the eastern borderlands of Europe. The course offerings in this region focus on the persistence of historical tensions between authoritarian and democratic political cultures, the diversity of ethnic and other identities in the region, and the interconnectedness of Europe and Eurasia in policy areas such as energy security and immigration.

Islamic Studies: The Islamic Studies focus seeks to promote understanding of Islam and the Muslim community in the United States and throughout the world. Course offerings include democratization in the Muslim world, women and Islam, Islam in the media, Islamic politics in the Middle East, and Islam and terrorism, among others. Our Islamic scholars have conducted groundbreaking field projects accompanied by American University students. The fostering of an understanding of Islam is accomplished through courses, events, invited speakers, and other education efforts through a public dialogue that involves scholars, public officials, students, and religious leaders in all denominations.

Middle East: The Middle East focus covers a range of countries extending from Morocco to Iran and includes the sub-regions of North Africa, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula. The courses highlight the complex relationships between religion, society and the state in the region. They address the interaction between society and the state through processes of democratization and peace-building, the plethora of cultural, religious, and ethnic identities, and intra-regional conflicts and the involvement of the superpowers therein.

Graduate Advising

The Graduate Advisors work with current SIS graduate students to assist with course selection and registration, degree progress tracking, curriculum information, and a variety of other academic affairs-related matters. We also process graduate non-degree registration requests.

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