Carnegie Mellon University

Laurie Zittrain  Eisenberg

Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg

Teaching Professor , Department of History


Prof. Eisenberg is an historian of the modern Middle East. Her areas of research and publication include the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace process and the interaction of multiple Middle East actors, particularly Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians. Recent publications include an assessment of the pedagogical value of a videogame about the Palestinian-Israeli situation, a second edition of her co-authored textbook on the Arab-Israeli peace process (with Neil Caplan, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace, Indiana University Press, 1998 and 2010), articles on Lebanese-Israeli relations, an overview of the Arab-Israeli peace process, 1967-1993, and a conference paper on Israeli-Syrian relations. On-going research projects focus on the legacy of Jordan's King Hussein and the June 1967 war.

In the classroom, Prof. Eisenberg emphasizes the interpretation of primary source documents and their centrality in original research projects. Her students learn to read historical documents closely and critically and to subject them to rigorous content analysis. Students also explore a wide variety of sources beyond the textbook, such as maps, media, photographs, biographies and historical testimony. Many of her courses incorporate in-class role-playing exercises. In “The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” students immerse themselves in an extended five week role-playing exercise, The Struggle for Palestine, 1936, an elaborate simulation game. “The Arab-Israel Conflict and Peace Process” concludes with a week-long Arab-Israeli negotiation simulation via Facebook which allows CMU students to interact with students at universities in the Middle East. Historical reenactment constitutes an exciting pedagogical experience and provides the opportunity for delving deeper into topic material than regular coursework allows.

She also teaches courses on religion and politics in the Middle East, American foreign policy in the region, the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and a practicum on how historians conduct research and interpret historical evidence. “American-Arab Encounters” takes place via video-conferencing in real time, uniting CMU students in Pittsburgh with students at the CMU campus in Qatar. An unusual but highly rewarding aspect of her work came when she served as a consultant for ImpactGames, a company which produced “PeaceMaker,” a video game simulating Palestinian-Israeli interactions. Prof. Eisenberg works closely with the Director of Undergraduate studies to bring exciting programming to undergraduates in the History Department.

She is a frequent speaker on Middle East topics on university panels and programs and at the invitation of area churches, synagogues, schools, civic groups and for the World Affairs Council of Greater Pittsburgh.