Published On: Tue, Apr 13th, 2010

FAU partners with FSMES to establish Middle East Institute

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BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters recently announced that it will partner with The Florida Society for Middle East Studies (FSMES) to launch a fundraising initiative for the establishment of a Middle East Institute at FAU.

“FAU has long been committed to Middle East studies in both teaching and research,” said Manjunath Pendakur, dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “With the creation of the Middle East Institute, FAU will be able to expand its research and cultural activities related to this complex region.”

“Working with FSMES, we will strive to promote an understanding among the next generation of national leaders and the public at large about the peoples, languages, cultures and religions of the Middle East.”

The Institute, which will be the only one of its kind in Florida, will be the focal point of academic and cultural programs about the Middle East, and will involve FAU faculty, students and visiting scholars.  It will draw on the research and teachings of faculty across the university who share an interest in the Middle East as a region of study, including faculty from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Science, Business and Education.

Although not degree-granting at its inception, the institute will fulfill a role in the education of the state’s students and citizenry. Fellowships will be offered to assist master’s and doctoral-level students

There also will be a public outreach program to work with schools and colleges, community and religious groups, and the general public to raise awareness and an understanding of issues in the Middle East.

In addition to presentations by FSMES, there will be public lectures, seminars, film series, workshops and conferences on a wide range of topics dedicated to Middle East issues.

For the past 15 years, FSMES has worked with FAU in presenting experts with diverse views on the Middle East region. This has included speakers from academia, various governments and Washington think-tank researchers.

FSMES has also supported graduate fellowships to political science students pursuing Middle East topics in their research and for study-abroad opportunities.  It also funded a three-year commitment to support research and programming for Mehmet Gurses, a political science professor who teaches at FAU and recently spent time doing research in Turkey.

The geographic scope of the institute will encompass the 22 members of the Arab League, Israel, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The Middle East Institute at FAU will make major contributions to Middle East studies and international education at the state, regional and national levels while serving as an intellectual and cultural center to faculty and students, businesses, pre-collegiate educators, the media and the local community,” said Bob Newmark, president of FSMES. “It will focus on issues in the modern Middle East and the significance of the region in a rapidly globalizing world.”