Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Is Democracy Possible in the Middle East?

Is Democracy Possible in the Middle East?

New York State Standards:
Standard 2 – World History, Key Ideas 1, 2, 3, and 4
Standard 3 – Geography, Key Idea 1
Standard 4 – Economics, Key Idea 1
Standard 5 – Civics, Citizenship and Government, Key Ideas 1,3 and 4
Common Core Curriculum Standards:
Reading 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Writing 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10

– Students will be able to expand their content knowledge of the Middle East pre and post Arab- Spring
– Students will be able to demonstrate reading comprehension
– Students will be able to enhance use of evidence to support statements
– Students will be able to apply decision-making and problem-solving skills
– Students will be able to examine multiple perspectives
– Students will be able to focus on social skills such as listening, respecting one another, and communicating clearly

Day One:
1. Various thesis statements will be shared and critiqued for both structural elements as well as factual elements.
2. Students will then be informed that they will be debating whether or not it is possible for democracy to succeed in the Middle East.
3. The teacher will explain the Structured Academic Controversy Model (if this is new to the students) or review the model if it has been practiced before. (Use the controversy handout to explain the steps)
4. Positions and pairs will be assigned (pre-chosen by the teacher based on a desire to mix gender and ability levels).
5. Students will work with their partners to prepare evidence to support their position (using the worksheet to write down information). Students will be given a packet of readings as well as a suggested video link to watch. (I use iPads in the classroom so students can do additional research and view the videos)

Students are to continue reading, researching and preparing for the debate.

Day Two:
1. Students will partner up to compare notes and plan their debate.
2. Students will be informed as to which pair they will be debating and move their desks to be facing each other (knee to knee, eye to eye)
3. Students on one side will present their position using supporting evidence while the opposing side listens and takes notes.
4. Students with the differing viewpoint will present their position using supporting evidence while the opposing side listens and takes notes.
5. Students will then physically slide their desks away from the other pair and craft three challenging questions to ask of the other side.
6. Students will reconvene and pose their questions to one another.
7. Students will then be asked to slide away once again and switch roles. They will now be charged with the task of coming up with an argument to support the other side.
8. Students will reconvene again and now be advocates for the alternative position.
9. Students will then see if the four of them can come to a consensus on the debate topic.
10. Consensus statements will be shared with the whole class.

Students are asked to complete a debate reflection sheet.

The teacher monitors and assesses student conversations.
The teacher can collect the debate preparation and controversy worksheet
Additional Idea – Students can be asked to write a complete CCOT essay on this topic

Is Egypt About to Explode—Again?
The intense volatility of the country’s political and security conflicts
Eric Trager Jan 2 2014
The Atlantic

3 Years After Arab Spring, Democracy’s Future In Middle East Still Uncertain
By Dan Perry Oct 5, 2013
The World Post

The secret history of democratic thought in the Middle East
Are constitutional ideals alien to the region? Not at all.
By Thanassis Cambanis, August 18, 2013
The Boston Globe

Will U.S. Democratization Policy Work?
Democracy in the Middle East
by Lorne Craner, Summer 2006, pp. 3-10
Middle East Quarterly

Does Democracy Have a Future in the Middle East
Sean L. Yom
Program on the Middle East, Foreign Policy Research Institute

  • Christina Cone
  • Smithtown High School West
Grade Level
  • High School: 10
Time Frame
  • Two forty-minute class periods

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