Bringing Middle East history, discovery to the classroom

professor in class with students

Jones teaser.jpgAs the Middle East expert in the history department, assistant professor Kevin Jones teaches a three-part survey on the region, a course on the Arab-Israel conflict and an Honors course on religion, nationalism and revolution. The combination reflects an ongoing scholarly journey that all began in Jones' earliest days of college:

"My first day as an undergraduate student was Sept. 11, 2001," Jones said. "The Middle East was in the news, and as an undergraduate I took some classes to try and better understand it."

A philosophy major at Wake Forest University, Jones gravitated toward history as a second major before committing to the discipline as his primary academic focus.

"When I started taking courses on the Middle East, at first I was more interested in learning more about the history of Islam," Jones said. "But when the Iraq War began—I was a junior—I became more interested in the history of imperial encounters in the region. I wrote for the student newspaper and became more interested in Iraqi history, and now 20th-century Iraq has become my specialty."

After his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, Jones completed a one-year fellowship at the George Washington University Institute for Middle East Studies. He has spent time living in Egypt and Yemen, experiences that can find their way into the classroom.

"It gives me some stories to share," Jones said. "When we talk about the Arab Spring uprisings for example, I was in Egypt until about six months before the revolution. Students have a lot of interest in hearing what it was like, how unexpected it was.

We really enjoyed meeting Dr. Jones, learning about his expertise and compelling personal story. The history department is among the very best, most diverse banks of expertise on campus, and his experience gives our students access to important, first-hand knowledge about one of the world's most important regions.

Image: Photo Kevin Jones by Dorothy Kozlowski for UGA.