MESP AWARDED UISFL GRANT


The Middle Eastern Studies Program (MESP) was recently awarded a major two-year grant from the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) program at the Department of Education. This grant provides a myriad of new opportunities to expand and strengthen the Middle Eastern Studies undergraduate major and minor at Syracuse University, as well as the Middle Eastern regional component of the major in inter- national relations. Developed by Dr. Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of MESP; Dr. Miriam Elman, Associate Professor of Political Science; and Dr. Rania Habib, Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Coordinator of Arabic Program, the primary goal of the UISFL project is to provide young people in the upstate New York region with the expertise they need to succeed in a wide range of governmental and non-governmental professions that require knowledge in the history, politics, media, religions, cultures, and languages of the Middle East and North Africa.

The UISFL program concentrates on three key initiatives that are designed to improve and strengthen the MESP: curriculum development, in-service training for K-12 teachers, and faculty development and training in the upstate New York area. As Elman explains, “One of the most exciting aspects of this grant is our ability to train students in ways that go beyond the traditional classroom setting. In languages, we are now offering conversation ‘tables’ in Hebrew and Arabic, and will offer ones in Persian and Turkish in the next academic year. These tables enable students to practice the language skills learned in the classroom with native speakers and in a relaxed, infor- mal setting. In terms of substantive content on the Middle East, we have an exciting array of guest speakers lined up for this year and next; the topics covered will enhance our traditional course offerings, especially related to the Arab world, and will enable students to begin networking with leading scholars and practitioners in the field.”

Curricular development will include enhancing language course offerings in the intermediate and ad- vanced levels; supporting language instructors to attend teacher-training workshops; holding language tables; revising existing courses; developing new substantive courses; and implementing new study abroad opportunities in the Middle East. In-service training for K-12 teachers in the New York State area will be developed through a partnership with the Central NY Council for the Social Studies (CNYCSS) to develop a newsletter and a series of training workshops on the Middle East. And finally, faculty development and training includes developing an in- terdisciplinary speaker series geared to assist students in career planning; augmenting the existing curriculum; and creating linkages between postsecondary educators at two- and four-year institutions of higher education in the upstate New York area.