Here is the email I sent to Dean Anderson of SIPA after she spoke at last night’s SPME meeting:
Hi Dean Anderson,
Thanks so much for your comments last night.
It was interesting for me to learn that the administration in no way assures the quality of the product being taught in the classroom, and that I, as a student, can only be sure to get value for my tuition if I complain after a class has already taken place.
I am attaching Professor Joseph Massad’s syllabus for this term-the second part of the class he teaches that is mandatory for all MEALAC majors, if I am not mistaken. While you might be right that “balance” is impossible, I do not think that sourcing one text aids in increasing the “sophistication” of students, as I think you put it.
It is interesting to note that the course’s goal is to give the student “the basis for a comparative frame, an introduction, and entry point, that will allow you to pursue a deeper historical and critical understanding of the complexity and diversity of the two parts of the world dealt with in this class,” and yet it totally omits the history of minorities in the Middle East–such as the Jews. Does that mean that Columbia University does not think that Jewish history in the Middle East should be part of a student’s “basis for a comparative frame”?
I look forward to your reflections on the adequacy of the course readings.
I wonder how she will respond.