Since its establishment in 1965, the mandate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) has been to coordinate, stimulate, and encourage academic, extracurricular, and outreach activities relating to the study of North Africa, Western Asia, Central Asia, and the Islamic World.
In fulfillment of this mission, the Center funds and administers a wide variety of programs and projects. At the undergraduate level, CMES ensures the availability of elementary and intermediate language courses and seeks to enhance their quality. CMES also administers one of the finest summer intensive Arabic language programs in the nation. In addition, CMES has taken the lead in helping to develop new non-language courses in the College. The CMES interdisciplinary Master of Arts (MA) program has grown steadily over the years and has established formal links with two professional school degree programs. Graduates of the doctoral programs in Middle Eastern studies at Chicago continue to achieve recognition nationally and to find placement in the finest institutions of higher learning in the United States and abroad. The Center coordinates and sponsors a lecture series, several film series, current events forums and the Middle East History and Theory Workshop and Conference, both student-organized and administered, and the Middle East in the Middle West for educators at other institutions in the region. Finally, the ultimate goal is to produce American experts in and citizens knowledgeable about the Middle East, its languages, and international affairs, as well as to build and maintain a strong research base in these areas.
Virtually all the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are represented in Middle East programs of study. 10 languages of the ancient Middle East are taught and 13 of the classical and modern periods. Most of the distinguished faculty hold appointments in one or more departments or schools. The interdisciplinary, comparative, and innovative approaches to knowledge and learning pioneered at Chicago profoundly inform the language and area studies programs at the University. This feature of the curriculum has been significantly strengthened by the creation of the Foreign Language and Area Studies Council under the aegis of the Center for International Studies. Research in all spheres is powerfully supported by one of the finest library collections in North America.
Long a national model, the CMES public education program is introducing satellite technology and the Internet to provide materials and services to educators, schools, community groups and cultural institutions, healthcare providers, businesses, and the media. To achieve this objective of service to the community most efficiently, we seek partnerships with like-minded organizations whose aims are consistent with our own goals of enhancing Americans' understanding of the nation's global connections and its multicultural society through education and training on the Middle East and the Islamic World.