Tarek Masoud Photo

Tarek Masoud

Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Governance


How can societies move from poverty to prosperity? How can weak, stagnant, and dependent countries become strong, innovative, and influential? Is it simply a matter of adopting institutions and practices employed by developed societies? Or is a deeper transformation of social, cultural, and even religious norms required? What is the role of leadership in effecting (or inhibiting) what needs to be done for states and their peoples to maximize their potentials? This for-credit module explores these questions in one of the world’s most dynamic regions: the Arabic-speaking Middle East. 

Throughout the Arab world, national leaders have declared a commitment to the remaking of their societies. National reform projects such as the United Arab Emirates’ “Vision 2021,” Saudi Arabia’s and Egypt’s “Vision[s] 2030,” Kuwait’s “Vision 2035,” and Oman’s “Vision 2040,” speak to a region-wide dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, and an urgent impulse to change it. The module, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates, with potential visits to other Gulf countries, will enable students to explore these reform efforts firsthand, to place them into their broader global and historical context, and to assess their futures. Through a combination of site visits, lectures by local scholars, and opportunities for engagement with policymakers and practitioners, participants in the course will emerge with a deeper understanding of the forces shaping the Arab region, and opportunities for, and obstacles to, modernization in the developing world more broadly. 

Entry into the course is by application. Application information to be posted this fall.

Preference will be given to students who successfully completed IGA-655, “Middle Eastern Politics and Policy."