When I’m speaking, lecturing, or teaching classes on university campuses, I meet lots of students who read NRO. In the echo chamber that is Middle East studies today, many students recognize the shaky foundations of the discipline, especially since most professors consider more their responsible to advocate on behalf of the region rather than pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake. But too few have outlets in which to pursue rigorous inquiry. When the peerage is rotten, peer review gets hijacked and becomes less a function to guard academic rigor, and more a means to constrain discourse into a narrow political spectrum.
Accordingly, I’d like to point out a new Middle East Quarterly student writing contest. Think of how much pizza or beer; airfare or books, $1,000 can buy. When I was still a hand-to-mouth graduate student, $1,000 could cover me for more than three months in a filthy, run-down Iranian guest house or five months in a filthy, run-down Cairo hotel.