Near Eastern Studies

Princeton University has been a leader in teaching and research in Near Eastern Studies (NES) since 1927. Its Program in NES is in its 61st year. The Program is closely affiliated with the Department of Near Eastern Studies, which is the first area studies department in the United States, focusing on the history, cultures, literatures, and languages of the Near East. Despite this close affiliation, the Program is interdisciplinary in nature and draws upon faculty in social sciences and humanities in many departments of the university as well as in Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs. The mission of the Program includes, besides teaching and research, vital interaction with the worldwide scholarly community, and the broad advancement, in this country, of knowledge about the Middle East through outreach to secondary school and college teachers as well as the general public. For instance, last year over 3,000 individuals attended our lectures, conferences, and symposia, and more than 300 secondary school teachers attended our workshops.

Throughout its history, Princeton's NES-related faculty has maintained a high international reputation. The Program attracts some of the most talented students in the field. Our graduates are today to be found in the forefront of all the major NES programs in this country and abroad, and our Ph.D.s teach all over the world, from East Coast to the West Coast, from Rabat to Birzeit, from Tel-Aviv to Istanbul. During the last grant cycle, graduates of our Program were hired by major government agencies and departments such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department, and all our military graduates were received high-level appointments related to the Near East. Currently Princeton faculty includes 43 teaching faculty members, three visiting faculty members, as well as three visiting fellows with teaching and research interests in the Near East. Annually they offer up to 100 courses covering all aspects of Near Eastern anthropology, art history, languages, literatures, history, politics, religion, and sociology. A full course of instruction is offered in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. In addition Princeton offers ancient languages of the area, such as Akkadian, Armenian, Biblical Hebrew, Ancient Greek, Ottoman Turkish, and Syriac in order to provide our students with tools to understand roots of modern-day developments. Princeton offers the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Master of Arts (M.A.), and Ph.D. degrees, and a Certificate in NES (for undergraduates), all of which are designed to provide students with a firm grounding in an academic discipline together with extensive area and language competence.

Princeton's Near East Library holdings remain preeminent in the nation. With 382,084 volumes in Near Eastern Languages, together with more than 315,000 titles relating to the area in Western languages, and 15,729 Islamic manuscripts, these collections from the core of NES teaching and research at the university, and support for the maintenance and expansion of these holdings remains one of the foremost priorities of this NRC. The provision of ready access to our NES related collections is a key element in our policy which is reflected in the large number of scholars who travel from within the United States and abroad to avail themselves of this unparalleled source each year. The University library has recently embarked on a four-year project that will make its extensive collection of Islamic manuscripts more accessible to scholars. The manuscripts, which make up the largest such collection in North America and one of the finest collections in the world, will be cataloged and digitized through an undertaking funded by the David A. Gardner '69 Magic Project, and the University will spend $ 750,000 for this undertaking.

NES's activities are closely coordinated with Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East North Africa, and Central Asia, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Erteg√ľn Foundation of Turkish Studies, Center for the Study of Religion, and other interdisciplinary centers. Together we host an array of conferences, seminars, symposia, and workshops all of which are open to the public as part of our outreach program. The NES program organizes a variety of educational and outreach events each year that bring together the worlds of secondary education, academe, government, and business.