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.
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.
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.
List of other Middle East Title VI National Resource Centers, with links to contact information: http://www.outreachworld.org/searchcontacts.asp
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 50 faculty members from 23 departments and the library at OSU and its affiliate faculty in other Ohio and regional universities and colleges.
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.