Perhaps no other region in the world can claim the dynamism that the Middle East has seen in past decades. The region has witnessed revolution, war, and mass popular uprisings.As a public institution, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, plays a key role in increasing awareness about the Middle East on campus and beyond.
Rutgers is working with numerous educational institutions in the Middle East. Graduate School of Education (GSE) faculty have worked in Beirut, Lebanon, under the auspices of the Norwegian Refugee Council, to design and conduct professional development workshops for teachers, principals, and supervisors in the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) schools that serve children from the Palestinian refugee camps. Entitled, Listening Schools, these workshops support educators in the development of collaborative inquiry practices through which to examine and change their teaching practices.
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) is responsible for an extensive outreach program, addressing the needs of educators, the business community, and the general public through various events including international conferences, public lectures, and K-12 teacher workshops (in concert with the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis).
Since 2009, Rutgers–Newark has had a formal partnership with Al-Quds University in the West Bank, which established the Rutgers/Al Quds Brain Research Exchange. Based at the Rutgers – Newark Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience (CMBN), this international exchange program has brought dozens of Palestinians from the West Bank to Rutgers and sent Rutgers undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows for research and training in the West Bank Palestinian Territories.
The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy (BPPP) has brought leaders to Rutgers from throughout the region, including Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen.
Rutgers students can study the potent historical, social, and religious forces shaping the Middle East through the university’s Middle Eastern Studies Program (MESP), directed by Sandy Russell Jones. The program offers an interdisciplinary major or minor on this region extending from Iran and its eastern borderlands (Central Asia) across Southwest Asia and North Africa. Its core faculty, largely drawn from the humanities and social science departments, have published widely on subjects ranging from endangered minority languages and medieval Turkic societies to modern Iraqi and Iranian politics.
The MESP offers an array of courses on the cultures, folklore, historical development, minority populations, politics, religions, and societies of Southwestern Asia and Northern Africa. Advanced courses also cover a broad range of topics, from women in contemporary Islamic societies to the relationship between the United Nations and the region. These core courses are regularly cross listed with MESP, Africa, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL), Art History, History, Jewish Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Undergraduate and graduate students across the university can also study eight Middle Eastern languages through two departments and one program: AMESALL (Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, Aramaic, Persian, and Turkish), Jewish Studies (Modern and Biblical Hebrew), and the Armenian Studies Program (Armenian). Students who major or minor in Middle Eastern Studies are expected to demonstrate proficiency in one of these languages.
Undergraduate students at Rutgers also have ample opportunities to enhance their understanding of the Middle East region and its languages through intensive study abroad programs in Israel (year-long or semester-long programs through the University of Haifa, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Morocco (summer programs through AMIDEAST), and Turkey (year-long or semester-long programs through Bilkent University in Ankara and Koç University in Istanbul). Through our relationship with AMIDEAST, students are able to participate in semester- or academic year-long programs in Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan.