CHALLENGES IN TEACHING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OF MIDDLE EAST COURSES IN MALAYSIAN HIGHER LEARNING INSTITUTIONS: A UNIVERSITI MALAYSIA SABAH (UMS) EXPERIENCE

A. Idris

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (MALAYSIA)
International relations programme has been commonly taught in several Malaysian higher learning institutions including Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). At UMS, the international relations programme is offered both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The international relations course of the Middle East is one of the core courses in the programme. There are two courses offered namely, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the international politics of West Asia. Teaching these courses which largely both have Arabic roots and Western influences is always a challenging task for Malaysian academics. Among the main challenges are academic materials that are going to be used for students’ references. These materials will determine directions and perspectives in understanding the dynamics of Middle East. In order to have a balanced analysis, both Arab and Western perspectives will be studied accordingly. However, due to the difficulty in getting a pool of relevant Arabic sources (from international relations discipline), with an exception of western materials, the nature of discussion has been much more western-oriented. Despite this shortcoming, however, it will not hinder academics and students’ interest in studying this region.