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History and Faith in Amman and Jerusalem


Amman, Jordan and Jerusalem, Israel

Program Description

Students will complete six credits of course work by enrolling in two of the offered 3-credit courses. This will be done during an intensive 4 week session in which students will spend 5 classroom hours per day meeting four days per week. There are numerous attractions in Amman, including shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs. A number of cities and towns are all within a short travel distance. All locations are accessible via the extensive public and private transportation systems (buses and taxis). During the program, students will visit historical, cultural, and religious sites of the city and the country, and can enjoy the culinary tradition of the region in general and Jordan in particular. The program also includes a one day trip to Petra and a one day trip to Jerusalem.

Location Description

This four week program will be based in the city of Amman, the capital and largest city of Jordan and one of the fastest growing Arab cities economically. The city is located in north-west Jordan and it is the chief financial, political, and cultural center of the country. It is also one of the principal commercial and transportation centers of the region as well as one of the Arab world's major cultural capitals.

The Greater Amman area has an estimated population of almost 3 million people. Amman has a settlement history stretching back thousands of years and the city is referred to in the Bible. It was the capital of the Ammonites in the 13th century BC, while during the Greco-Roman period Amman was part of the Decapolis (a Hellenistic league of ten cities). However, it is essentially a product of the modern period and has been growing rapidly from the middle of the 20th century to the present. Jordan occupies an area rich in archaeological remains and religious traditions dating back thousands of years.

Throughout the program students will visit a number of historical, religious, and natural locations outside of Amman. The ancient biblical kingdoms of Moab, Gilead, and Edom lie within the borders of Jordan, as does the famed red stone city of Petra, the capital of the Nabatean kingdom and of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea. Other sites include the Roman city of Jarash/Gerasa and the Crusader time castles of 'Ajlun and al-Karak. A number of locations in Jordan have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. These are Petra, Quseir Amra, Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a), and the Wadi Rum Protected Area. All of these sites will be visited during the program.

Another location which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and which will be the target of an excursion is the Old City in Jerusalem which is believed to have been continuously inhabited for almost 5,000 years. The holy city of Jerusalem is revered by the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Despite a rapidly changing demography, Jerusalem has retained a diverse and cosmopolitan character, particularly in the walled Old City with its Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim quarters. However, outside the walls, Jerusalem is in every sense a modern city. The multicultural reality of the city is highlighted by the constant mingling of Hebrew, Arabic, English, and other languages in the streets.


Aram Shahin | | Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures


Accommodations will be provided for through furnished apartments and houses with internet access and full kitchen and laundry facilities. All meals will be covered in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

Visas for US citizens can be obtained at the airport in Jordan and at the border crossing into Israel. Citizens of other countries should check with the director or with the websites of the Jordanian and Israeli embassies in the US.

The cost of all group excursions is covered in the program fee. There will be additional short visits, covered by the program as well, e.g., to locations within the greater Amman metropolitan area, three Umayyad desert castles, the Crusader castle of al-Karak, and various historical and religious sites in Jerusalem.

Cell phones or telephone cards may be purchased in Jordan.

This program is intended for students wishing to complete their General Education requirements and for students minoring or majoring in Arabic. It is also aimed at students with a general interest in the region, its history, its religions, and its cultures.

ARAB 232 or ARAB 212 are prerequisites for ARAB 446 and ARAB 448. Alternatively, instructor permission is available.

Application Process

For this program, students are required to submit the following material(s):

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0.

For more detailed instructions and to download the application, please click on the following link to the Applications and Forms section for JMU Short-Term Programs.

Official transcript required for first-semester transfer students and non-JMU students.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


GHUM 252: Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Greater Syria - 2,000 Years of History and Culturel (3 credits)

ARAB 446: Bilad al-Sham (Greater Syria): 2,000 Years of History and Culture (3 credits)

ARAB 448: Special Topics in Arabic Linguistics: Conversational Levantine Arabic (3 credits)

ARAB 490: Special Studies in Arabic: Faith and History in Amman (3 credits)