Abdulkader Sinno's Academic Website

asinno+indiana.edu

CV

I am just as passionate about my teaching as I am about research and intellectual innovation, and I enjoy motivating my students to think, communicate and perform to the best of their abilities. I was a Teaching Assistant/Fellow at UCLA, a lecturer at Stanford University, and currently teach undergraduate and graduate courses at Indiana University.

 

Some of the courses I offer(ed):

 

 

Descriptions of courses I offer for interested students:

 

The Contemporary Middle East in World Politics (POLS Y200/NELC N222)

This course introduces you to the interaction among people, governments and outside powers in the greater Middle East and North Africa--a vast and complex area that stretches from Morocco to Afghanistan and from Turkey to the Sudan. Topics addressed include much of the following: Background (geography, history, culture and religion); the colonial legacy; the Cold War and post-Cold War eras; the role of resources such as oil; OPEC; the role of non-state organizations; gender issues; the role of identity and ideology; role of diasporas; the Arab-Israeli conflict; Zionism and the Palestinian predicament; the Iraq-Iran War; the Gulf Wars; weapons of mass destruction and other tools for the projection of power in the region; transnational movements; international dimensions of religion, ethnicity, and civil wars; state and religion in the Middle East; security issues; wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the crisis over Iran's nuclear program; and the Arab Spring.

 

International Political Controversies: US Foreign Policy and the Muslim World (POLS Y102/NELC N122)

This ten-week course introduces you to some salient policy debates that shape American Foreign policy towards the Middle East and the Muslim world today.  We will address the following big policy questions, as time permits: 1) Should the US have invaded Iraq in 2003? 2) How should the US manage its relationship with Iran? 3) Should the US continue to occupy Afghanistan? 4) How should the US exit Afghanistan? 5) How should the US deal with the revolutions of the Arab World? 6) Should the U.S. intervene in Syria?

The course is divided in three broad parts: Part One (weeks 1-3): Part One introduces you to the analytical skills we need and to the geography, politics and cultures of the area we study.  This is a very reading-intensive phase. Part Two (weeks 4-7):  We will deal directly with the big questions of this course in Part Two.  This is also a very reading-intensive phase.  You will also become part of a discussion team of five students. Part Three (weeks 8-10): Talks by academics and candidates for representing our district in Congress.  You will do less reading in part three but you are expected to attend all the talks and to work on your paper. Students are expected to attend class, engage in discussions and write short essays, write a six-page paper, and take three tests.

 

Intro to Comparative Politics--Comparing Political Systems (POLS Y107)

This course is about how politics are conducted around the world.  It begins with the introduction of basic concepts used by political scientists to analyze politics: power, authority, nation, state, political culture, political system, etc. We will then use such concepts to analyze how political institutions affect and are shaped by political processes, policies, economic performance, welfare, human and minority rights, political stability, immigration, civil war, and other factors.  We will learn how these factors vary through time, across states, within them and across regions of the globe.  We will alternatively use broad comparative studies and focus on specific countries.  We will also address some big questions in a comparative context: why are some countries democratic while others are not?  How do political parties adopt their policy positions?  How are laws and policies produced in different political systems?  Where do civil wars emerge? Why do some countries prosper while others don’t?  What are the routes to economic development? Requirements for this course will include a mid-term exam, two short essays, and a final exam.  This course will prepare you to take more advanced courses in comparative politics.

 

Middle Eastern Politics (POLS Y339/NELC N339)

This course introduces you to the interaction among people, governments and outside powers in the greater Middle East and North Africa--a vast and complex area that stretches from Morocco to Afghanistan and from Turkey to the Sudan. Topics addressed include many of the following: Background (geography, history, culture and religion); the colonial legacy; the Cold War and post-Cold War eras; the role of resources such as oil; OPEC; the role of non-state organizations; gender issues; the role of identity and ideology; role of diasporas; the Arab-Israeli conflict; Zionism and the Palestinian predicament; the Iraq-Iran War; the Gulf Wars; weapons of mass destruction and other tools for the projection of power in the region; transnational movements; international dimensions of religion, ethnicity, and civil wars; state and religion in the Middle East; security issues; wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the crisis over Iran's nuclear program; and the Arab Spring.

 

Muslims in Western Politics (Political Science Y490/NELC N304/West W405)

This course introduces you to the role of Muslims in Western Politics.  Individuals who practice the religion or who belong to ethnic groups that are traditionally Muslim are now estimated to make some 2% of the North American population and 4% of the European Union’s population, and their numbers are expected to continue to grow.  The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the wars that followed highlighted and amplified the role and perception of Muslim minorities in the West as political actors and electoral constituencies, subjects of cultural hostility, scapegoats for poor economic performance, suspects in the face of insecurity whose rights could be exceptionally curtailed, and agents for the projection of geopolitical power.  Western states and their rapidly growing Muslim populations are adjusting to each other under the constant pressure of exogenous shocks.  The way they manage the process will deeply affect Western polities and their relations with the Muslim world.

Substantive topics we will explore include: How/why do different states strike a balance between security and civil rights/liberties? Is there really a tradeoff between the two? How do they deal with immigration, both permitted and unregulated?  What factors affect the degree of political participation by Western Muslims? Why are culture clashes more salient in some countries than in others? Why do Muslim immigrants prosper more economically in North America than in Europe? How do international conflicts affect the relationship between Western states and their Muslim citizens and the dynamics among citizens of different backgrounds?  Is there a connection between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the West?  Are we witnessing the birth of a Western Muslim macro-ethnicity or many disjointed ethnic communities? How are Muslims perceived in their Western societies and how do they perceive their fellow citizens?  What will the future hold?

Students are expected to regularly participate in discussions and to write 1) a 5-7 page report and 2) a 15-18 page research paper OR three 5-page book reviews.

 

Intra-State Conflict, Conflict Resolution & State Building (Political Science Y490/NELC N305)

 This course introduces you to research on intra-state conflict, conflict resolution and state-building.  Intra-state conflicts include civil wars, wars of liberation, secession, revolutions and ethnic conflicts.  Topics addressed include: Where do conflicts erupt? How do they evolve? How long do they last? Who wins? How & where could negotiated settlements be reached? What type of polity will result from the conflict? Which conflicts justify outside intervention? Does outside intervention work? Can outsiders build a resilient state?  The readings for the course consist of studies that try to answer those questions broadly, policy papers, and case studies written by both scholars and practitioners.  The course will particularly address conflicts from the Middle East and North Africa, including the current confrontations and “state building” ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You are expected to contribute to the discussion, submit a guided research report and a paper proposal, and write a term paper that evaluates some of the theories you will learn in the context of a specific conflict.

 

Muslim immigration and minorities in the West (Political Science Y657/N695)

This course introduces you to the study of immigration and minorities, with a particular focus on Muslims in Western Europe and North America. The course will introduce you to different theoretical approaches and methods that are useful for this area of research, and you'll read the best and latest of the literature on the topic. We will discuss the application of methods such as interviews, field research, different types of experiments, institutional analysis, and survey analysis to produce convincing answers to research questions on this topic.  Students are expected to actively participate in discussions, present papers, write a paper-length manuscript, and share their findings towards the end of the semester.

 

Substantive topics we will explore include: How/why do different states strike a balance between security and civil rights/liberties? Is there really a tradeoff between the two? What shapes public attitudes towards (Muslim) immigration? How do institutions affect relations among the state, natives and Muslim minorities? How do Western publics see (Muslim) minorities in the context of the use of welfare benefits? How do they deal with immigration, both permitted and unregulated?  What factors affect the integration of Western Muslims? Why are culture clashes more salient in some countries than in others? Why do Muslim immigrants prosper more economically in North America than in Europe? How do international conflicts affect the relationship between Western states and their Muslim citizens and the dynamics among citizens of different backgrounds?  What is Islamophobia and how does it affect the socio-economic advancement of those who are perceived to be Muslim? Is there a connection between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the West?  Are we witnessing the birth of a Western Muslim macro-ethnicity or many disjointed ethnic communities? How do Western Muslims perceive their fellow citizens? How do they mobilize politically? What factors affect the quality and quantity of their representation in politics? How do politics affect Muslim communities and individuals? What will the future hold?

 

Researching Civil War (Political Science Y657/NELC N695)

This course introduces you to the craft of researching intra-state conflicts.  Intra-state conflicts include civil wars, wars of liberation, secession, revolutions and ethnic conflicts.  We will survey the general literature on the topic and discuss the different methodological approaches currently in use to produce social scientific knowledge in this area.

Substantive topics addressed include: Where and why do conflicts erupt? How do they evolve? How long do they last? Who wins? How & where could negotiated settlements be reached? What type of polity will result from the conflict? Which conflicts justify outside intervention? Does outside intervention work? Can outsiders build a resilient state?

The methodological approaches we will explore in the context of studying intra-state conflicts include the analytic narrative, the case study, the comparative method, quantitative approaches, formal modeling, agent-based modeling and combinations of the above.  You are not expected to be an expert on any of the above approaches and this course will not help you become one.  Instead it will help you understand what each approach can offer and which one to invest in to answer the questions that interest you.  We will also explore some of the resources in the public domain (particularly datasets and software) that could help you with your research.

You are expected to contribute to the discussion, write a few reports that contribute to the collective learning effort, and write an original research paper.  Some previous exposure to quantitative methods would be helpful.

 

Researching the Politics of Muslim Countries (Political Science Y657/NELC N695)

This course introduces you to some of the latest academic literature and debates on the politics of Muslim-majority countries and the research methods used in these studies.  We will focus primarily on studies centered on the Middle East, Afghanistan, and North Africa.  Topics addressed in the readings include: the dynamics between government and opposition, Islamist parties, resources and economic development, conflict and civil war, the durability of authoritarianism, prospects for democratization and/or Islamization of government, gender issues, civil society, and social and educational development.  The studies we will discuss are grounded in a large variety of methodological approaches, including comparative studies, statistics, game theory, ethnography, elite interviews and experiments.  Participants in the seminar will write a research paper on a topic related to the course.