The Middle East in Transition: Questions for U.S. Policy draws students into the U.S. policy debate on one of the world’s most important regions. Students examine the role of oil in geopolitics, the issues between Israel and the Palestinians, the significance of the Iranian Revolution, and other historical issues that have shaped U.S. relations in the region.
- Review a timeline of events in Egypt over the past three years.
- Identify core themes of Egyptian protest movements.
- Work collaboratively with classmates.
Note: Students will need access to the internet to complete this activity.
In the Classroom:
1. Egypt K/W/L
Create a Know-Want to Know-Learned chart on the board. Tell students that they will be reviewing the main events and movements in Egypt over the past three years. Call on students to share what they know about Egypt (its geography, political leaders, the Arab Spring, recent protests, etc.). What have students heard on the news? As students respond, fill in the “Know” section of the chart. Continue by completing the “Want to Know” section. What questions do students have about recent political events in Egypt?
Optional Video: Before beginning the group activity, you may want to show students the short PBS documentary, “Gigi’s Revolution.” This eleven-minute video introduces students to the revolution through the eyes of a twenty-four-year-old activist. Remind students that this is just one person’s experience and does not represent the views of all Egyptians. Preview the film to make sure it is appropriate for your class.
2. Exploring the Timeline
Divide students into groups of three or four, and distribute the handout, “Graphic Organizer: The Egyptian Revolution,” to each student. As students go through the timeline, they should take note of the important people, groups, and events mentioned. In particular, tell students to record details about three protests they find interesting or important. Alternatively, assign the timeline as homework and have students gather in groups in class to discuss their general impressions and what they have learned.
3. Identifying Main Themes
After students have completed the handout, bring the class back together to discuss the timeline of events. What are students’ reactions? What protests did students record? Are some of these ongoing? Fill in the “Learned” portion of the K/W/L chart as students share information from the timeline.
Tell students that one of the main slogans of the revolution is “Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice.” What do students think these demands represent? You may wish to review the video, “What are the demands of the people?” from the concluding slide of the timeline as a class.
Have students discuss in groups how bread, freedom, and social justice are reflected in the events featured throughout the timeline. Students may reference events that uphold these demands (for example, the freedom to vote in a democratic presidential election in 2012) or events that show how these demands have been restricted (for example, the recent ban on public protest). Call on students to share their thoughts. Do students think the demands for bread, freedom, and social justice are still relevant in Egypt today? How so? How might different civilian groups define bread, freedom, and social justice? Do students think these definitions are similar to or different than the views of Egyptians with the most political power?
4. Concluding Discussion
Ask students to think of other revolutions in history (American, Haitian, etc.). Were these revolutions short-lived, or did they take many years? When is a revolution considered complete? Successful? Is the Egyptian Revolution over? What do students envision for the future of the Egyptian Revolution?
Extra Challenge: Encourage students to conduct independent research on the Egyptian Revolution. What would they add to, or revise, about the timeline?