Egypt: Modern Cairo, Urban Development, and Social Change
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The program will include several site visits within Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and elsewhere in Egypt. These study visits will provide students new opportunities to examine urbanization and development at different scales and in varying contexts, while also experiencing Egyptian, Arab, and Islamic historical and cultural treasures.
Site visits within the Greater Cairo Region may include:
- Al-Azhar Park. Situated in historic Cairo, Al-Azhar Park features beautifully landscaped gardens and panoramic views of the city. One of the largest stretches of green in Cairo, the park is built on top of a landfill, which offers students a creative example of innovative economic development and urban planning.
- Islamic Cairo and historic mosques. Students will experience Cairo’s ancient streets, houses, palaces, famous markets, and places of worship, including the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, which was built in the 9th century and is one of Egypt’s largest and oldest mosques, Saladin’s Castle, and Khan el-Khalili, one of the most fascinating bazaars in the entire Middle East.
- Old Cairo. Time in this historic part of the city, which is closely associated with Egypt’s minority Coptic Christian community, includes visits to the Babylon Fortress, the Hanging Church, the Greek Church of St. George, and the Ben Ezra Synagogue.
- Valley of Giza and the pyramids. A trip to Giza highlights the immense urban development surrounding these ancient architectural treasures, which are situated only 12 miles from Cairo’s city center.
- Solar CITIES. Solar CITIES is a local NGO that installs solar hot-water heaters and biogas generators in some of Cairo’s poorest slums.
- Moquattam. One of Cairo’s “garbage neighborhoods” and home to the Zaballeen, Moquattam is a community of Coptic Christians who originally practiced subsistence agriculture in Upper Egypt. Since the 1940s, they have provided waste recycling services to Cairo’s burgeoning population.
- Street of the Tentmakers. Built in 1650, Cairo’s sole surviving covered market offers a unique window into the city’s past and the historic practice of tent-making by hand.
- Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Students will delve more deeply into Egypt’s ancient past during a visit to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, home to the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, including many well-known mummies and the riches of King Tut.
Longer excursions outside Cairo:
- Alexandria. Founded by Alexander the Great and the capital of Greco-Roman Egypt, Alexandria offers students new perspectives on development, urban planning, and environmental challenges. Today it is Egypt's second-largest city.
- Luxor. Located in southern Egypt, Luxor is home to ancient temples, tombs, and the famous burial ground of ancient Egyptian pharaohs, the Valley of the Kings. The excursion to Luxor will focus on plans for urban development and archeological restoration that are designed to increase tourism, along with the challenges these plans are posing for many local communities.
- Wooden Water Works of Fayoum. Students will learn about vernacular water management in ancient Egypt during a visit to the oasis town of Fayoum. Famous for its waterworks, Fayoum is an impressive example of ancient environmental ingenuity.
View Student Evaluations for this program:
About the Evaluations (PDF)