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Josef Korbel School of International Studies

Center for Middle East Studies


Welcome to the Center for Middle East Studies (CMES) at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies. CMES is an interdisciplinary institution dedicated to the study of Middle Eastern politics, history, and culture. We seek to engage the University of Denver community and broader public in informed discussion on topics of regional importance in an effort to deepen understanding of this critical region of the world.

To join the discussion and learn about upcoming events and publications, please subscribe to our Email List by contacting us at We hope to see and hear from you! 

Upcoming Events

Sectarianization: ISIS, the Syrian Conflict & the Future of the Middle East
A Panel Discussion

sectarianization Wednesday, October 1 at 7:00 PM
Anderson Academic Commons | Special Events Room

CMES is very excited to announce this upcoming panel event co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute's Middle East Programs and the University of Denver's Conflict Resolution Institute, featuring three of the most prominent voices on Syria and the broader Levant:

Joshua Landis is the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Professor of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma, former President of the Syrian Studies Association, and editor of the widely influential blog Syria Comment.

Steven Heydemann is Vice President of Applied Research on Conflict at the United States Institute of Peace, author of Authoritarianism in Syria: Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946-1970 and co-editor of Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestations, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran .

Marwa Daoudy is Assistant Professor of International Studies at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, and former Lecturer in Politics and International Relations of the Middle East at St. Antony's College, Oxford University.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Facebook event page and check out our website's Sectarianism Resources page for an excellent variety of background information from our three panelists and other scholars of the Middle East.


Liberalism for an Age of Globalization:  Terrorism, State Collapse, Inequality & Hyper-Partisan Politics
A Lecture By Stephen Holmes

Stephen Holmes Thursday, October 2 at 12:00 PM 

Room 229 | Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management (Joy Burns Center)

Stephen Holmes is the Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law at New York University (NYU) Law School, and has taught at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Chicago. Holmes is the author of several books, including  The Anatomy of Antiliberalism The Matador's Cape: America's Reckless Response to Terror , and  Passions and Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy


This event is co-sponsored by the Josef Korbel School's Political Theory Forum. It is free and open to the public. For questions or further details, visit our website and Facebook page, or contact Douglas Garrison at 303-871-6722. For more information, including directions to the Joy Burns Center, visit the Facebook event page.

The conflict with isis: recent cmes events & publications


Recognizing the significance of the escalating conflict with ISIS/ISIL in Syria and Iraq, CMES is actively involved in seeking to foster greater understanding of the so-called "Islamic State" and the underlying sociopolitical factors that propelled it to prominence -- both on campus at the University of Denver and in the public sphere.

Toward that end, CMES Associate Director Danny Postel published an article entitled, "The War on ISIS: Views from Syrian Activists and Intellectuals," for the blog of Dissent Magazine , which profiles the thinking of eight Syrian thinkers and activists on the current struggle against ISIS/ISIL.

Further, CMES co-hosted a faculty teach-in with the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy on the first day of Fall Quarter to discuss the various options for the U.S. in combatting ISIS/ISIL. Featuring Dean Christopher Hill, Sié Center Director Deborah Avant, and CMES Director Nader Hashemi, the event drew an enormous crowd and was recorded by three local television news outlets. In case you missed the event, you can watch it in its entirety below.

2014 Annual Conference

What Went Wrong? Egypt's Failed Democratic Transition

Egypt Banner

The Center for Middle East Studies presents a Daylong Conference Examining Egypt's Failed Democratic Transition

Friday, September 12, 2014

  • 9:15 - 9:30 am: Opening remarks - Ambassador Christopher Hill, Dean of the Josef Korbel School, and Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies
  • 9:30 - 11:00 am: The Role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's Democratic Transition
    • Mona El-Ghobashy, Independet Scholar
    • Joshua Stacher, Kent State University
    • Shadi Hamid, Brookings Institution
    • Emad El-Din Shahin, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • 11:15 am - 12:45 pm: Islamism, Liberalism, & Democratic Theory - Lessons from Egypt's Failed Transition
    • Andrew F. March, Yale University
    • Mohammad Fadel, University of Toronto
    • Daniel Brumberg, Georgetown University and the United States Institute of Peace
    • Micheline Ishay, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
  • 3:00 - 4:30 pm: Ideology, Mass Media, Popular Culture, & the Public Sphere in Egypt - Explaining the Outbreak of Fascism
    • Mohamad Elmasry, University of North Alabama
    • Joel Gordon, University of Arkansas
    • Ellis Goldberg, University of Washington
    • Abdullah Al-Arian, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar
  • 7:00 - 10:00 pm: Screening of Jehane Noujaim's Documentary Film THE SQUARE Followed by a Panel Discussion & Open Forum,  Margery Reed Building Reiman Theater
    • Daniel Brumberg
    • Mohammad Fadel
    • Monah El-Ghobashy
    • Emad El-Din Shahin
    • Ellis Goldberg

Video from all four panels will be available shortly!

Noteworthy Events from 2013-14

February 18, 2014: A Conversation with Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Center for Middle East Studies was proud to host a video conference with Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Islamic Republic of Iran, on February 18 at 12:00 PM in the Anderson Academic Commons Special Events Space. The event, which marked the first direct communication between Minister Zarif and an American public audience, was moderated by Ambassador Christopher R. Hill, Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Dr. Zarif discussed the current contours of US-Iranian relations with Dean Hill via video conference from Vienna, Austria, where he was working with Secretary of State John Kerry on finalizing a deal regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Prior to assuming that post in August 2013, Dr. Zarif served as Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations (2002-2007) and Iran's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-2002). In addition to his distinguished diplomatic career, Dr. Zarif is a proud University of Denver alumnus, earning both his MA and PhD in International Studies from DU's Graduate School of International Studies (now the Josef Korbel School) in 1984 and 1988, respectively.