Middle East Studies at OSU, Our Vision and Mission

About the Center

The Middle East Studies Center (MESC) at The Ohio State University promotes learner-centered teaching, scholarly exchange, and intercultural experience related to the Middle East. MESC combines efforts with Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), the Undergraduate International Studies Program (UISP), and the Middle East Studies Library Collection, to support students, faculty and staff.  See courses in UISP related to the Middle East below. Together, we enhance academic rigor, provide a depth of research resources, and access to culturally and linguistically diverse experiences and sources of knowledge.  For example, OSU is known for Ottoman studies, and boasts one of the strongest Turkish language programs in the nation, along with related library collections unparalleled outside of Turkey and related language study and field work opportunities.  OSU offers a range of opportunities for cultivating a full range of related 21st century skills based on this regional diversity and its importance in global dynamics. These include language fluency and comprehensive linguistic ability in the languages of the Middle East, critical media analysis, and cultural/political literacy, each of which can make a powerful impression on a resume.  


In this age of geopolitical and economic changes in the Middle East, and shifting agendas of international and regional powers, OSU has been dynamic in its responses on campus and as part of the national scholarly community to synthesize findings and share the analyses of its 47 faculty researching the Middle East.  The Middle East offers a richness of cultural, linguistic and socio-political diversity.  MESC supports the professional development of the language faculty and NELC’s proficiency initiatives by funding and organizing proficiency-based teaching workshops, and procuring resources for administering tests.  Such concrete evidence for language ability greatly enhances student credentials, and job-readiness upon graduation. See more on career paths here.

The Middle East Studies Center (MESC), an area studies center of the Office of International Affairs at the Ohio State University, was established in 1981. Since then, the Center has brought in over 13 million dollars to the university, forged lasting partnerships and strengthened OSU’s reach in the local community and beyond. This means the creation of easy-to-digest materials, such as our e-book, and our personal delivery of content to schools in Columbus, across the country, and online. We conduct extensive training for the military, provide ongoing media analysis (delivering 50 media interviews per year), and continually work to strengthen Middle East studies at OSU by supporting courses, enrichment activities, library resources and experiential learning opportunities for students.  Please support our Center's Outreach Program with a donation. Every dollar directly funds work to make university expertise and resources available and accessible to the general public.  

MESC supports language learning, creates opportunities for authentic cross-cultural interaction, and serves as a clearing house of information regarding professional opportunities, funding and resources for learning to faculty, students and the general public.  MESC leverages grant funds and seeds positions to provide continuity in curriculum focused on the Middle East at OSU, and regularly contributes to the library in order to ensure that research about the Middle East and in the languages of the Middle East can continue to be of the highest caliber.  This helps attract the best faculty and students interested in the Middle East.  MESC combines efforts with Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), the Undergraduate International Studies Program (UISP), and the Middle East Studies Library Collections (MESLC), to ensure students, faculty and staff have the support and material enrichment they need to conduct top notch studies, research and education. 

NOTE: We do not offer translation services. For translations services please contact US Together Interpretation and Translation Services, or another professional translation organization. 


The Middle East Studies Center (MESC) is an area studies center of the Office of International Affairs. Our Center's mission (see full statement below) is not only to foster high quality research and scholarship, but also to use this research and scholarship to increase understanding of the realities of everyday lives of Middle Eastern people. For this reason, our highest priority is to share knowledge based on direct experience in the form of field research, cross-cultural interaction, and primary sources from the Middle East.  We strive to make that information accessible to all.  MESC promotes learner-centered teaching, scholarly exchange, and intercultural experience related to the Middle East. MESC combines efforts with Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), the Undergraduate International Studies Program (UISP), and the Middle East Studies Library Collections (MESLC), to support students, faculty and staff. 

In 1988,1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2009 the Center was designated by the US Department of Education as an Undergraduate Title VI National Resource Center (NRC), for a total of 28 years. Title VI funding has allowed the university to provide the following critical resources to students, local schools and community members, teachers, military and government personnel,  the business community, media, and others:

  • Interdisciplinary courses about the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, in at least 30 disciplines.

  • Curricular materials for teaching about the Middle East

  • Seeding faculty lines in positions related to Middle Eastern, North African and Central Asian cultural communities, languages, and connections to world affairs. 

  • Seeding and offering courses and professional development programs for pre- and in-service teachers focused on the Middle East. 

  • Training, on campus and through site visits, targeting teachers, military personal and the general public. 

  • Instruction of critical languages at intermediate and advanced levels in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Uzbek, and Urdu.  In addition, a comprehensive Hebrew program is offered at all levels, and Pashto courses and instructional materials have been developed. Our graduates in these languages are recruited by multiple branches of the U.S. federal government, and businesses in the private sector. 

  • Fellowships for an average of 20 graduate students per year, and now also several undergraduates per year.  Many of these graduates go on to be professionals focused on the Middle East or communication with the Middle East. 

  • One of the nation’s best Middle East library collections, including numerous titles in the languages of the Middle East.

  • International faculty exchange programs with institutions in the Middle East resulting in new research. 

  • Domestic faculty exchange through participation and organization of academic conferences and colloquia. 

  • Teach-ins and other academic engagement events

  • Breaking Down the Headlines blog,and related videos and public engagement events.  

  • Serving as platform for information on jobs, calls for papers, funding opportunities and other relevant information for members of the Middle East Studies community on OSU campus.  

For comprehensive information on Title VI and area studies in the U.S., see: Changing Perspectives on International Education. The book targets school and university administrators, policymakers, and education planners.

History and Background:

Since World War II, the principal reason for establishing international and regional programs at the Ohio State University has been the need for international experts.  As part of this, a bold vision for creating future leaders and experts in various world areas and global issues was formed by the faculty visionaries who began the area studies centers and who continue to guide them.  These graduates must have the ability to deal with the challenges of the 20th century and the new millenium.  As one of the pioneering Title VI National Resource Centers, the Middle East Studies Center (MESC) at the Ohio State University continues to play a major role in the realization of that vision by contributing to the enrichment of the intellectual environment at The Ohio State University.  The Center will continue to provide opportunities for faculty, undergraduate and graduate students to pursue their academic objectives and contribute to the body of knowledge about the Middle East.  The need for knowledge and understanding about other peoples and cultures has never been more pressing.  

The Middle East Studies Center (MESC) was established at the Ohio State University in 1981. As an area studies center in the Office of International Affairs, MESC serves the university community and the community at large by facilitating and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, offering courses on the Middle East, funding graduate study through the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS), linking OSU and foreign institutions through exchange programs and collaborations, and engaging various constituencies through educational activities. In addition MESC helps OSU to maintain its academic coverage of the Middle East by supporting the Middle East Studies Library, seeding positions, funding course development, and supporting study abroad to the Middle East.

Since its designation as a National Resource Center (NRC) in 1988, it has been consistently renewed in the 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2005 cycles, for a total of 19 years. MESC is one of the leading NRCs in the country, one of the few consistently-funded Middle East NRCs, and one which has been recognized by its peers and by the US Department of Education.  We recognize the generosity of the Office of International Affairs, the Graduate School, the College of the Humanities, and the central university administration, who also have made our programs possible.  Most of all, we remain grateful to our affiliated faculty; without their scholarship this NRC status would not be possible. 

The Center's current Title VI NRC grant will bring over two million dollars to The Ohio State University (OSU).  This funding creates more opportunities, and more access to OSU programs and activities focusing on the Middle East.  MESC will continue to support cross-disciplinary scholarly synthesis focusing on the Middle East, the generation and dissemination of knowledge about the Middle East and the Muslim World, and a robust outreach program which connects MESC to a number of community partners, including the P-12 education community. Additionally, MESC will continue to support up to 12 academic Year FLAS Fellows and between 5 and 10 summer awards. By combining efforts with the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department, these funds have allowed MESC and OSU to serve as host of the Eastern Consortium in Persian and Turkish for the 3 consecutive years most recently for three consecutive summers from 2004 to 2006.  In addition, OSU served as its host in the summers of 1990, 1996-98. The Eastern Consortium summer intensive Persian and Turkish program is unique in the nation, providing graduates, undergraduates and professionals the chance to form a foundation in those languages.  Through this membership in the Eastern Consortium, OSU is collaborating with some of the top universities in the United States.  Other members include Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia, Princeton, Georgetown, the University of Michigan, and the University of Chicago.

About Title VI: http://www.usglobalcompetence.org/index.html
About National Resource Centers: http://www.nrcweb.org/

List of other Middle East Title VI National Resource Centers, with links to contact information: http://www.outreachworld.org/searchcontacts.asp

Mission and goals:

The mission of the Center is to foster and generate knowledge of the Middle East, its past and current economic, social and political developments, and to promote teaching, learning, research and public awareness of the diverse array of Middle Eastern languages, cultures, and peoples. As a part of that mission, MESC helps OSU to make knowledge accessible to the citizens of Ohio, the country and the world. Sharing university resources and expertise with academic communities, the general public at a variety of venues, federal and state agencies, and the media, helps the Center to make a greater impact.  Impact at local, regional, national and international levels, is also a major requirement of Title VI. Outreach and engagement, providing better student resources, facilitating multidisciplinary collaboration and conducting follow-up communications and programs with our various constituencies are all essential to the Center's evaluation plan, to the University's Academic Plan, and to Title VI mandates.

These goals are achieved by funding and supporting courses, providing Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, contributing to the library, co-sponsoring faculty lines, providing instructional resources, creating linkages and fostering relationships with domestic and foreign institutions, inviting and co-sponsoring guest scholars, and numerous outreach and engagement activities, on and off campus. The Center draws on the expertise and experience of 47 faculty members from 23 departments and the library at OSU.

Strengthening the performance-based instruction of less commonly taught modern languages of the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, and providing teacher training are the two highest priorities of the program at MESC. The Center helps to fund, or provides other forms of support for Arabic, Hebrew, Pashto, Persian, Somali, Turkish and Urdu instruction. In addition, the center is a member of the Eastern Consortium in Persian and Turkish in collaboration with Harvard, Boston University, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, New York University, Georgetown, the University of Michigan, The University of Chicago, The University of Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota. A major component of the MESC teacher training program is The Institute on Middle Eastern Cultures, a 3 graduate credit hour course offered through the College of Education's Outreach and Engagement Office.


  A Visual, Digital Approach to Engagement:

  In this age of complex geopolitical and economic challenges in the Middle East, MESC has been dynamic in its responses on campus and in the national scholarly community, helping to synthesize findings and identify best practices for teaching, research and outreach activities. MESC’s digital activities strategy leverages and further globalizes our robust outreach and engagement program, enhancing functions of teaching, rendering knowledge accessible, and delivering content. To catylize the effectiveness and reach of these activities, and to provide students with work experience, we request interns to coordinate event logistics and publicity; to cull, identify and organize media for instructional materials; and to edit publicity materials. Tools such as simulcasting, course-sharing platforms and video-conferencing are helping us share LCTLs, area studies courses, and teaching materials with partner institutions and our constituencies, especially teachers. 


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