My name is Kirk James Beattie (pronounced bay-tee). I grew up in a small, mostly suburban town called Clarkston on the far northern edge of metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. I attended an excellent, private college, Kalamazoo College, in Kalamazoo, Michigan as an undergraduate. I majored in Political Science, and minored in French. I went to southern France on a junior year abroad program, and was totally smitten. I returned to France to conduct my senior thesis on a topic suggested by my college advisor, and about which I knew nothing: French foreign policy in the Middle East. This is literally how my lifelong interest in Middle East and North African politics began. At the time, the U.S. had no diplomatic relations with most countries in the region, a situation I felt could not last because of American allies’ energy needs, if not those of the U.S. Still enamored with France, I returned there for nine months following graduation from college. I audited Arabic and sat in on Political Science courses at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Aix-en-Provence.
During my third stay in France, I applied to graduate school programs in Political Science, and was accepted at The University of Michigan, the #2 program in the U.S. Over time I specialized in Comparative Politics, having acquired the impression that this subfield placed greater emphasis on understanding people’s concerns, beliefs and sentiments than did the International Relations subfield. Because I have a great fondness for foreign languages, and have been relatively adept at their acquisition, I went on to apply for various language grants and fellowships over the coming years, all of which either assisted me to pay for my graduate studies at Michigan in first Arabic, then Persian, and/or enabled me to seek admission to special, federally funded foreign study programs, such as the Tunisian Summer Study program, or the Center for Arabic Study Abroad program in Cairo, Egypt. I was fortunate to be selected for participation in these nationally competitive programs, as well as to be the recipient of several other national grants, such as an International Rotary Foundation Fellowship, and two Fulbright fellowships, that permitted me lengthy stays in Egypt or France.
I have taught at Simmons College since 1985. I love my students and my colleagues at Simmons. I have also taught, moving from more recent to distant times, at Harvard University, Wellesley College, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and The University of Michigan.
Course I have taught, and continue to teach, at Simmons include:
POLS 104 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLS 221 The Arab-Israeli Conflict
POLS 240 Islam and the West
POLS 243 Middle Eastern Politics
POLS 246 Politics of Western Europe
POLS 247 Politics of Religious Fundamentalism
POLS 264 (TC) Political Economic Evolution of Egypt
POLS 266 (TC) France: Economic, Socio-Cultural and Political Change
POLS 390 Senior Seminar
My early research efforts focused on contemporary Egyptian politics and an explanation of the staying power of Egypt’s military authoritarian regime. For what eventually became two books, I undertook unique, extensive elite interviewing in Arabic, French and English, in addition to spending hundreds of hours doing secondary research in libraries in Egypt, as well as in newspaper morgues, as they are called. My first book was on the Nasser era; the second on the Sadat era.
I have completed a book on the role the US Congress plays in shaping US Middle East policy. It should be published by June 2015. And I am currently back in Paris for a second, half a year in a row, finishing work for another book on French foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa.