Dr. Curtis R. Ryan, Associate Professor of Political Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, is the lecturer for Lees-McRae College’s annual Staley Lectureship Series in September.
The first of three lectures, “Christians in the Middle East” looks at the main forgotten minority in the Middle East, but therefore also at a group that may be a key to regional peace. Dr. Ryan will present “Christians in the Middle East” Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. in Evans Auditorium located in the Cannon Student Center.
On Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. in Evans Auditorium, Dr. Ryan will present the lecture “Islam and the West: Jihadists, Crusaders, and the Question of Tolerance”. This keynote lecture looks at the rise of Islam and its approaches toward other faiths, including Christianity and Judaism. Dr. Ryan will answer questions including whether the conflict is the norm and tolerance and acceptance possible, and what, exactly, Jihad is.
The third and final lecture will be held Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. and is titled “Women and Islam”. This lecture examines the main controversies surrounding gender and Islam: the questions of polygamy, veiling, social and political rights and roles, and what Islam actually says about all of these.
“Dr. Curtis Ryan brings wisdom and expertise about crucial issues in our world today; issues we need to understand in order to help us have a broader view of what is really happening in the Middle East,” said Rev. Kathy Campbell, Campus Chaplain.
The Staley Lectureship Series is funded by an endowment the College receives from the Thomas F. Staley Foundation, which is firmly persuaded that the message of the Christian Gospel, when proclaimed in its historic fullness, is always contemporary, relevant and meaningful to any generation. To this end the Foundation seeks to bring to the college and university campuses of America distinguished scholars who truly believe and can clearly communicate to students.
“Lees-McRae College is fortunate to have received an endowment from the Staley Foundation,” said Dr. Ken Craig, professor of religion and honors program coordinator at Lees-McRae. “It is because of their generosity that we are able to attract important scholars such as Dr. Curt Ryan, an expert on religion and politics in the Middle East. I once had a chance to hear him speak. He is informed, articulate, and engaging.”
Dr. Ryan specializes in international and Middle East politics, with particular interests in inter-Arab relations, Islam and politics, alliances, democratization, and international security.
Before teaching at Appalachian State, Dr. Ryan taught at Mary Washington College, Old Dominion University and the United States Naval War College. He holds a B.A. from Drew University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1992 and 1993, Dr. Ryan served as a Fulbright Scholar and guest researcher at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan in the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan. He was also twice named a Peace Scholar by the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
His book, Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah, was published in 2002 by Lynne Rienner Press. Dr. Ryan’s articles have been published in the Middle East Journal, Middle East Insight, Arab Studies Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Southeastern Political Review, Journal of Third World Studies, Middle East Policy, and Middle East Report.
Dr. Ryan also recently presented research at NATO-sponsored conferences in Washington, D.C., and in Istanbul, Turkey, on democratic and militant Islamist movements in the Middle East. His current book project is a study of Arab alliance politics.