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SIT Jordan Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring

Location:

Amman, Jordan

Credit:

Transfer

Program Features

Affiliated Program
Research
Internship

Eligibility:

- 2.5 GPA

- Good academic and disciplinary standing

Application Due:

Spring: 9/27

Fall: 3/4

market with vegetables and man shopping

SIT Study Abroad offers more than 60 accredited semester and summer study abroad programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. SIT also offers the International Honors Program, which is multi-locational.

The SIT Experience

  • Rigorous academic programs through a field-based, experiential approach
  • Undergraduate research through an Independent Study Project
  • Cultural immersion through fieldwork, language classes, and urban and rural homestays with local families
  • A small group of students in each program, supported by SIT faculty and staff, homestay families, in-country experts, and community members
  • Access to SIT's extensive local resources and networks
  • A commitment to reciprocity as the foundation of our educational philosophy

Academic Program

Learn about the Middle East’s politics, shifting power configurations, and efforts to promote peace and global security from Jordan, a peace broker in the region.

Study the Middle East’s complex history from Jordan’s capital, Amman. Over the last two decades, the Middle East experienced major events—from the 1994 Oslo Peace Treaty to the Arab Spring revolutions to the civil wars in Syria, Libya, and Yemen—that continue to reshape the geopolitical map of the region. As a peace broker in the region, Jordan provides an excellent site from which to study territorial conflict and state sovereignty, international intervention, and geography’s effects on politics and international relations. You’ll learn about the dominant international relations paradigms in the Middle East and discuss reconciliation models with political scientists, diplomats, and policy makers. You’ll also consider the rise of ISIS and the role of Russia and the U.S. in peacemaking in the Middle East.

Major topics of study include:

  • How geography shapes politics, shifts power, and impacts international relations in the Middle East
  • The impact of political crises on social organization, the economy, and human ecology in the Middle East
  • Territorial conflict and state sovereignty, international intervention, and international relations
  • The underpinnings of the Arab Spring on politics and society in Jordan and neighboring countries
  • Internal, regional, and international arenas examined through an experiential learning model
  • The impact of Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian immigrants and refugees, now two thirds of Jordan’s population
  • Theory and practice of peace psychology and contributions of psychological analyses of foreign policy, international conflict, and conflict resolution to the understanding of international relations
  • The role of Jordan as a peace broker in the region and the effects of diplomacy and international relations in conflict resolution

For more information, see SIT's webpage.

Program Structure

Amman at night, city view

Interdisciplinary Seminars

Thematic seminars merge student experience with academic theory to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn from SIT faculty as well as guest lecturers from local universities, research institutes, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and community and professional associations. Field-based activities and assignments complement readings, discussions, and research papers, allowing students to engage in a variety of study methods.

Intensive Language Study

Programs typically offer language study at the intermediate and advanced levels and/or beginning instruction in a less commonly taught language spoken by the local community. Language courses incorporate formal classroom instruction, discussion, and field exercises designed to enhance student engagement while improving oral and written competence. Select programs are taught entirely or partly in the target language.

Research Methods and Ethics

Students learn appropriate methodologies that prepare them to undertake fieldwork on topics connected to the program’s theme and specific cultural context. Students develop research skills and approaches including cross-cultural adaptation and skill building; project selection and refinement; contact and resource cultivation; observation and interviewing skills; gathering, organizing, and presenting findings; and maintaining a field journal. Students also examine the ethics and impact of their research on local communities and are required to follow the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy, which serves as an approval process and guide for ethical field study practices.

Independent Study Project (ISP)

Typically conducted during the last month of the semester, the ISP allows students to pursue original field-based research on a topic of their choice within the program’s thematic parameters. The academic director advises each student on developing a project plan. Students also identify an ISP advisor who works with the student on the design, implementation, and evaluation of the student’s research project. Final projects generally include a 20- to 40-page paper and presentation to peers, academic staff, and interested members of the host community.

University of Iowa students who complete an Independent Study Project (ISP) must follow University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures. For more information on the Iowa IRB process please visit the Undergraduate Research Abroad webpage. An additional pre-departure orientation session, hosted by the Iowa IRB, will be offered on campus to help answer questions and ensure compliance.

Cultural Activities

TURKEY AND GEOPOLITICS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: The program includes an excursion to Istanbul, Turkey, a city that offers a unique blend of East and West and complex geopolitical history. In the past 20 years, Turkey has emerged as a leading political, economic, and cultural power in the region and as a main regional geopolitically influential player. In Istanbul, students have a rich context to learn about a different perspective on international relations and the Turkish influence in shaping the future of the Middle East. Students also learn about sociopolitical minorities such as the Kurds, the Syrians, and international investors. Students also meet with peers from Istanbul University and visit Old Istanbul to discuss the role of Turkey in Syria and Turkey’s relations with Iran, Israel, and world powers such as Russia, the US, and the EU. During this excursion, students will meet with peers from Istanbul University and visit Old Istanbul, the Blue Mosque, Haga Sofia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and Suleymaniye Library and Mosque. They also have the opportunity to enjoy a boat cruise on the Bosphorous reaching close to the black sea. A sea where the surrounding countries have a rich and complex history of geopolitics and international relations.

THE NATURAL WONDERS OF JORDAN

The Dead Sea and the Baptism site: Visit the most spectacular natural landscape in Jordan. In addition to being one of the lowest points on earth, the Dead Sea is the world’s richest source of natural salts. Also, you will visit the Baptism site of Jesus Christ, here you will be in closet point to Israel and West bank.

Wadi Rum: In the vast desert of Wadi Rum (Valley of the Moon), the shooting location for much of Lawrence of Arabia and many other films, you’ll enjoy an afternoon of desert trekking around awe-inspiring, vast sandstone mountains. Here, you’ll experience the legendary hospitality of the Bedouin tribes, enjoying mint tea or cardamom coffee in Bedouin tents or talking with your hosts under a starry desert sky.

ANCIENT AND MODERN CITIES IN JORDAN

Jerash: Walk among the extraordinary ruins of Jerash, the best-preserved Roman city outside of Italy,

Desert Eastern Castles: Visit Qasr al-Harraneh and Qusayr Amra, two exceptionally well-preserved castles from the eighth century.

Ajloun: Visit the medieval castle Qalaat Errabadh, built by Muslims to protect the area from invading Crusaders, and stay overnight at the Ajloun lodge nestled among oak, pine, pistachio, and strawberry trees.

Petra: At this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll take in the splendors of the ancient city of Petra, a world-famous archeological wonder featured in Indiana Jones “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Program Dates

Spring Semester: Late January - Early May

Fall Semester: Early September - Mid-December

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with SIT, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.
  


Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353
Email: study-abroad@uiowa.edu

Amman, Jordan

mosque in Amman

In the heart of the Middle East, you will be able to examine Jordanian government and society as you negotiate the underpinnings of the Arab Spring and ensuing political change in neighboring countries.

Safety

Ruins

SIT places the highest priority on the health, safety, and security of all students. Through their 80-plus years of running international experiential education programs, they have developed sophisticated proactive and reactive risk management strategies. Their proactive risk management begins with in-country assessments of safety and continues through student orientation and emergency preparedness. Their reactive risk management strategies include 24/7 on-call availability, emergency/crisis response protocols, and comprehensive student insurance. Their structure also allows for rapid response and adjustment to changing situations.

Jordan Travel Information

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Roman theatre in Amman

You will spend the entire program period, other than the time on excursions, living with a homestay family in West Amman. The homestay provides you with an outstanding window into Jordanian urban life and culture. Most homestay families are middle class and maintain the customs of the typical Arab home.

Homestay families may include first or second generations of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, now a major component of Jordanian social and cultural life. You will be integrated into your host family’s daily life, partaking in everyday activities such as sharing breakfast, participating in family outings, and shopping. In some cases, you will have the opportunity to experience a Jordanian wedding ceremony or other traditional cultural activities organized by the host family or relatives.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels, research institutes, or small hotels.

Educational Excursions

Street and market in Amman

United Arab Emirates

The UAE has emerged as a leading economic, political, and cultural power in the region, and many countries in the Middle East look to the UAE paradigm as an important model. On this excursion, you’ll visit four out of seven emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Shariqah, and Ajman). Here, you’ll learn about the history of the Emirates, the expat work force, and geo-economics and international business in the Gulf.

You’ll meet with peers from New York University in Abu Dhabi, the American University in Dubai, Dubai Heritage Village, Mamsha Al Jumaira, Dubai Boulevard (Khalifah Tower, the Fountain, and Dubai Mall), Emirates Palace, Shiekh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi Corniche, H. H. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi of Ajman Emirate, Arab Peninsula Animals Center, Sharjah Islamic Arts Museum, Al Qasba Canal, and many other sites.

You will write a comparative essay in which you will analyze aspects of what you learn in UAE and Jordan and document how the excursion contributed to your understanding of the geopolitics of the Middle East.

Central and Southern Jordan

This excursion will take you to both Central and Southern Jordan. You will receive customized Arabic lessons in a field-based setting; lessons focus on the sites and communities you visit, and you will enjoy highly interactive conversations about the places you experience. You will be engaged in Arabic practice from the time you leave Amman until your return; this includes language practice during periods of travel.

Passport

US Citizens

If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students without a valid passport should apply for a new passport or a passport renewal as early as possible.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact Ryan Ourada (ryan-ourada@uiowa.edu) for information on how to ensure that their passport is valid for the duration of their time abroad.

Flights

Students will work with their program provider to make travel arrangements to their program site. The cost of travel is not included in the course fee. UI Study Abroad will not arrange a group flight to your study abroad destination.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from your program provider.

Local Transportation

Within your host city and around the country, students will utilize public transportation such as buses and trains. Excursions and general travel require a lot of walking, so bring some comfortable shoes!

Eligibility

Students must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. You must be in good academic and disciplinary standing with the university at the end of the semester, too. If you are not in good standing at the end of the semester, your acceptance will be revoked and you will be responsible for the associated withdrawal fees.

Costs

This is a new program. The UI cost sheet is forthcoming. General cost information is available on the SIT webpage.

This document outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. It includes fees charged on students’ U-Bill as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Upfront, out-of-pocket expenses

Some costs are incurred prior to departure and will be due before financial aid/scholarship disperse. Here are the expected upfront costs for SIT:

  • Iowa application fee: $50
  • Airfare: $1,000-$1,500
  • Passport: $135

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

SIT automatically gives students from Big Ten institutions a $1,500 scholarship. There is no application necessary — the amount is automatically credited to your account. SIT offers additional awards that can be found on SIT's webpage.

Pell Grant Recipients will have their application fee waived by SIT, are eligible for additional SIT scholarships, and are competitive candidates for the Department of State's Gilman Scholarship. Please talk to your Study Abroad Advisor for more details.

Withdrawal policy

SIT's withdrawal policy can be found here: Withdrawal and Cancellation. After applying and being accepted students will then be asked to confirm their participation in the program. After confirmation, students are responsible for the following:

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After submitting the Confirmation of Participation Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
Less than 30 days before the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: $400 or 50%, whichever is greater
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT
On or after the program start date Study Abroad Administrative fee: 100%
Portion of course fee: As determined by the program contract with SIT

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

Spring: September 27

Fall: March 4

How to Apply

You can find the application for this program on our website here: UI Study Abroad Application. Applicants must meet with a Study Abroad advisor before their application will be processed. You can schedule a meeting by calling 319.335.0353.

Participants must also complete the SIT application and complete all the application components by SIT's deadline. The SIT application can be found here: SIT Application.

Acceptance and Confirmation Materials

Coming soon.

Health & Safety Planning

In addition to submitting their Confirmation of Participation form, students should review the following:

Study Abroad Resources

Passports and Visas

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the PDFHealth Preparation Guide for International Travel form with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

For more information about receiving financial aid while studying abroad, please review the following:UI Financial Aid Information

You can find more information about options for funding your study abroad experience including scholarships on Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad.

In addition, take a look at SIT Scholarship website for information about scholarships offered directly through your program provider.

Visa

U.S. passport holders should follow the Visa batch process instructions provided by SIT. Make sure to submit all required documents by the submission deadline. Otherwise you will have to apply for your student visa independently.

U.S. Citizens will need a student visa if they are going abroad for a semester, or academic year. Typically, they will not need a visa for the summer sessions.

UI Study Abroad will hold advising appointments and/or information sessions to provide details on the visa application process. UI Study Abroad staff can provide some assistance on the Italian visa application process, but ultimately the individual traveler (the student) is the person who is responsible for providing correct information on the visa application and securing the visa and all other required documentation prior to travel.

Prior to starting the visa application process check in with SIT for more information; they have a preferred timeline that students need to follow.

Orientation

In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email safety-abroad@uiowa.edu

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

Pre departure Resources

SIT will provide you with a variety of pre-departure resources to prepare you for your study abroad experience. These will include a packing list, cultural information, housing instructions, etc. Ensure that you thoroughly review any information provided to you by SIT and refer back to it if you have any questions.

These materials may be periodically updated to reflect new program information prior to departure. Be sure to check your SIT Account often.