World Affairs Council Fall Lecture Series – The Arab Spring and Prospects for Democracy

World Affairs Council presents its Fall Lecture Series: October and November 2011: “The Arab Spring and Prospects for Democracy”

In this Fall Lecture series we consider the prospects for democracy in the Arab world as well as ask the question, “Have prospects for democracy dimmed?” Beginning in late 2010 and reaching a peak in the spring of 2011 people across the Middle East and North Africa protested against conditions of economic decline and high unemployment, human rights abuses, absolute monarchies, and government corruption. Often these revolutionary demonstrations were led by young people who rapidly and effectively deployed social media as a means of organizing thousands of protestors. Such civil resistance was often met with violent responses from the governments and the pro-government demonstrators. Many risked their lives as well as sacrificed their lives in order to take part in this democratic uprising.

The revolution of the Arab Spring has resulted in the overthrow of heads of state in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya while regional unrest has led to promised change in leadership in many other Arab states. The popular uprisings of the Arab Spring have created new opportunities for U.S. foreign relations as well as created new challenges.


Keith St. Clair
Professor Keith St. Clair is a Professor in the Political Science Department at Grand Rapids Community College. He teaches international relations and comparative government, and his academic specialty is on the Middle East. Professor St. Clair has traveled extensively, for both research and study, in Israel, West Bank, Jordan, Oman, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, and Iran. Professor St. Clair’s time in Turkey was through a Fulbright Fellowship.

Roger Durham, PhD.
Dr. Roger Durham is a Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Aquinas College. He teaches the international relations and comparative politics courses and coordinates the International Studies Degree. His primary research interests include: Post Cold War dynamics between strong and weak states, Post Cold War and Post 9-11 crises, development issues, Latin American Political Economy, Just War Theory and Human Rights issues. He is Advisor to the Model United Nations and Model Arab League student programs.


Tuesday, October 25
UN DAY — The Arab Spring and the Impact on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Professor Keith St. Clair
The Arab Spring brings both danger as well as opportunity for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The stakes are high and the variables are many, but certain outcomes seem inevitable. Foresight in the conflict first requires the demolition of certain myths before we can begin to understand the potential impact of the Arab Spring.

Tuesday, November 1
The Arab Spring and the Impact on US Foreign Policy
Dr. Roger Durham
The Arab Spring could have dramatic and systemic effects on international politics both regionally and globally. These changes and forces have and will continue to influence American Foreign Policy in the region. This talk will outline some of the major dynamics of the recent changes in the Middle East on US Foreign Policy including US involvement in the international efforts in Libya, US relations with major Arab powers such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and certainly US relations with Palestinians and Israel.

Tuesday, November 8
The Arab Spring and Prospects for Democracy
Professor Keith St. Clair
What is the probability for democracy in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring? How would democracy impact the Arab world and beyond? These important questions can be explored by first considering the strengths and weaknesses of democracy. Is democracy a double-edged sword presenting as many problems as it solves?

All lectures from 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM with Q & A/discussion until approximately 8:30 PM

Location: Upper Donnelly Hall at Aquinas College | Enter from Woodward Avenue, which is between Fulton and Robinson road. Free convenient parking in Woodward Lot. A map of campus is available here.

Remember to check out our website for additional information on this series and other programming throughout the year!

Cost: $10 a lecture, Council members; $15 a lecture, non-members.

Public welcome. No reservations needed. Pay at the door. Free Parking

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