Description: The University of Washington (UW) is the premier research institution in the Pacific Northwest and has offered Middle East language and culture courses for over 90 years. Since 1974, the UW has maintained a Title VI Middle East National Resource Center (MEC), which serves a large geographical area of the United States that has little access to Middle East programming.
Mission: The mission of MEC is to 1) provide educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in the Middle East at the UW, and at corresponding institutions linked to the Center and to expedite the acquisition of Middle East language mastery and increase the pool of Middle East area specialists, 2) to foster an interest in the modern Middle East at the k-12 levels, 3) to increase an understanding and appreciation of the Middle East in the nation, and 4) to train U.S. citizens from diverse backgrounds of American society as Middle East specialists to serve in the public and private sectors.
Degree Programs: The degree programs are: 1) Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, 2) MA degree in the Jackson School of International Studies, 3) Ph.D. degree in the Interdisciplinary Near and Middle East Program, and 4) Middle East-focused MA and Ph.D. degrees in disciplinary departments.
Languages and Discipline Coverage: The UW is unique in the Pacific Northwest, and rare in the nation, for the depth and coverage of modern Middle East languages it offers in: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and Tajik. Middle East coursework ranges across the departments of Anthropology, Art History, Communication, Comparative Religion, Economics, English, Ethnomusicology, Geography, History, Information, International Studies, Jewish Studies, Law, Linguistics, Music, Near East Languages and Civilization, Political Science, Social Work, and Women Studies.
Unique Enhancement Activities: MEC is unique in its commitment to develop Arabic language acquisition at the K-12 level and creating educational opportunities for minority and disadvantaged students in partnership with local and national non-profit organizations. With a superb language faculty, the UW program is at the leading edge of proficiency-based instruction to expedite language mastery.
Library: The UW library is ranked consistently as one of the top 15 North American research libraries. The library's Near East Section is one of the larger comprehensive collections in Middle East languages in the United States and is a leader in developing computer tools to enable the creation of electronic databases for Middle Eastern language material.
Outreach: Outreach through the Center, and in cooperation with other centers at JSIS, provides a wide range of services and events to K-12 and post-secondary, business, media, and the general public. The Center cooperates with non-profits, and the Seattle Public Schools to offer Arabic at the elementary and high school levels and offers intensive summer instruction on the Middle East to middle and high school teachers.
Overview of FY 2006-2009 Activity: During the FY 2006-2009 grant period, the Middle East Center will 1) expand the use of proficiency testing of students, especially in Arabic and Persian, and provide training opportunities for newly hired language faculty in proficiency methodology, 2) increase undergraduate access to course offerings in ME languages, 3) expand Arabic language instruction at the high school level, 4) develop courses with the College of Education that improve pre-service teacher training in Middle East area studies, 5) offer a series of lectures and workshops on subjects that pertain directly to increasing understanding of the Middle East, and 6) award Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships in accord with established competitive priorities.