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Roots of the Arab Spring

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for thirty school teachers on the historical roots of what has come to be called the "Arab Spring."

This new institute brings together teachers and scholars to investigate the historical, social, economic, and cultural dimensions of the Arab Spring, the revolutionary wave of protests and uprisings sweeping through the Arab world since 2010. Beginning with the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt, participants explore the subsequent French, British, and Italian colonial periods in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Egypt, and Libya. They then investigate how the expansion of European colonialism and global capitalism in the region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fostered new ideas about modernity, political discourse, and class structures. After this, they investigate the rise of anti-colonial nationalist movements in the period 1919-1939, followed by decolonization during the Cold War era. Subsequent discussion focuses in large part on post-colonial movements, neoliberalism, and challenges to political establishments by workers, youth, women, Islamists, and others culminating in the recent popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria. Project director and Middle Eastern historian Omnia El Shakry is assisted by staff members (the History Project Team) and academic colleagues at the University of California, Davis, including historian Susan Gibson Miller, anthropologist Suad Joseph, religious studies scholars Flagg Miller and Keith Watenpaugh, and comparative literature professor Noha Radwan. Before the institute, participants read two textbooks, William Cleveland, A History of the Modern Middle East, and Kenneth Perkins's A History of Modern Tunisia, and selections from Akram Khater, ed., Sources in the History of the Modern Middle East. During the institute, they discuss primary source documents, view films, and build a collective resource pool, an annotated bibliography, and a discussion forum using the interactive blogging platform Tumblr. Each participant also creates a lesson or unit plan to submit to colleagues for peer review. Final projects are posted on the Tumblr site and on a university-hosted website.

Faculty: Susan Gilson Miller, Noha Radwan, Suad Joseph, Flagg Miller, Keith David Watenpaugh

Dates: July 15—August 2 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Omnia El Shakry, and Pamela Tindall, University of California, Davis
Grantee Institutions: University of California, Davis
Location: Davis, CA

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.