About the Program
The Middle East--few parts of our world are more in the news or more vital to the international interests of the United States. Business, mass media, law firms, governmental and non-governmental bodies, philanthropic organizations, relief and aid agencies, human rights groups, graduate and professional schools are all ea ger to recruit individuals well-versed in the complexities and intricacies of Middle Eastern/North African culture, history, religion, civilization, economics and politics.
Fordham University is one of the few institutions of higher learning in the United States that offers an interdisciplinary, intercampus, undergraduate major in Middle Eastern studies. This program trains and equips students to step into challenging positions related to Middle East affairs. Students begin with langua ge training in modern standard Arabic, which makes them distinctive, posessing a rare asset for life.
The program includes the geographic areas of the Middle East and North Africa from ancient to modern times, from Morocco in the west to Afghanistan in the east, as well as from Turkey in the north to Somalia in the south. The Arabic-speaking world and Israel are the primary focus. We offer courses in history, anthropology, political science, art history, economics, religion, philosophy , and literature. All of these disciplinary areas are necessary to make the Middle East and North Africa come alive with meaning.
Students who enter our program are required to take a minimum of eight courses for the major and a minimum of six courses for the minor. All students must take the one year introductory sequence Sacred Texts of the Middle East and Introduction to the Modern Middle East. These survey courses provide students with the analytic tools and insights needed to co ntinue in the program and set the stage for the exciting and challenging array of electives that the program offers. It is also required that electives in the major/minor be divided between humanities/arts and the social sciences, designed to provide the broadest possible exposure to the various disciplines. A senior seminar constitutes the capstone course for majors.
We strongly advise all students to study a Middle Eastern language. Knowledge of the spoken and written word of other c ultures provides students with a keen appreciation for tradition and nuance not normally available in translation. Three levels of modern standard Arabic are offered and will satisfy the language proficiency requirement. Arrangements for training in other Middle Eastern languages, such as modern and ancient Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish, are made on an individual basis. Language is an important and sought-after communication skill in today's highly competitive and global job marketplace. Many p otential employers, as well as graduate and professional schools, give preference to those candidates with training in non-Western languages and cultures. In 1993-1994, Fordham began to offer the first ever undergraduate course in Modern Business Arabic in association with the Global Learning Opportunities and Business Experiences (G.L.O.B.E.) program of the Gabelli School of Business.
Middle East Studies students are strongly encouraged to study abroad at some point during t heir undergraduate training at Fordham. Middle East Studies co-sponsors overseas programs at the American University in Cairo (Egypt), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), the Arabic Language Institute in Fez (Morocco), the Bourguiba Institute for Arabic Language Study (Tunisia), and the Jerusalem Study Program in Tantur (West Bank). In the last two years, five students have enrolled in Arabic and Islamic studies in Egypt and Morocco from three to 12 months, some with full-funding supp ort from the National Security Education Program (NSEP), an undergraduate fellowship program. The program includes all travel, residency and tuition costs for Arabic study overseas.
To further broaden our students' exposure to potential career opportunities, the Middle East Studies Internship Program offers paid and unpaid positions with such organizations as the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (New York City), the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (New York City and Washingt on D.C.), and the League of Arab States (New York City and Washington D.C.), among others. Students can receive academic credit for internships.
Fordham also participates in the national Model League of Arab States held annually at the American University in Washington, D.C. The Model gives students the opportunity to simulate an Arab League Summit Conference through representation of a member country. In the past, Fordham has represented Palestine, Jordan, Algeria, Lebanon and the Sud an. Over the years, Fordham students have won 12 awards while deriving wide benefit from interactions with their peers from other colleges and universities that sponsor Middle East Studies programs, such as Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Michigan and UCLA.
The Middle East Studies program also sponsors Middle East Outreach, an active, year-round program of community outreach activities involving free public lectures, academic symposia, scholarly conferences, teacher-training workshops , summer seminars and institutes, and roundtable discussions. These diverse outreach programs encourage reasoned and informed discussions and debates about critical issues in modern Middle East history, politics, culture, religion, diplomacy, economics and international affairs. Toward this end, the Middle East Outreach Resource Center makes available to all those interested audio-visual materials, articles, journals, books, teaching guides, pamphlets and other instructional and informational resources dealing with the ancient and modern Middle East and North Africa.
The faculty who teach in the Middle East Studies program represent a broad spectrum of scholars, researchers, and teachers with extensive experience in the region. The 11 full-time faculty members are supplemented by adjunct instructors so as to insure a full range of course offerings in any given academic year. In 1995-1996, for example, the folowing academic disciplines and their faculty are represented in th e program: anthropology (Gilbert, Swidler), Arabic (El-Badry), art history (Kwami, Mathews), comparative literature (Hoffman), economics (Vali), history (Pourshariati), Islamic law (Magnetti), media studies (Mustafa), musicology (Grimes), political science (Entelis), and theology/ religious studies (Agliardo, Bogot, Callaway, Nasuti, Shafer).