The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) is an interdisciplinary center composed of faculty drawn from the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
The Center was originally established in the 1970s as a Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Program. In cooperation with the Department of Africana Studies, it introduced the teaching of Arabic, enabling students to take Arabic for the first time at Rutgers, in addition to the Hebrew language and literature courses already being offered by the Hebraic Studies Department (today Jewish Studies).
The program was changed into a Middle Eastern Studies Program in the mid-1980s, when a program of study including a major and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies was also defined and offered to the University's undergraduate students. It was transformed into its present form as the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in 2002. Today, in addition to Persian and Arabic, students can take classes in Hebrew and Turkish. Rutgers students have a choice of over 70 different courses offered regularly through the Center.
With over 200 students in Arabic language classes and over 50 in Persian language classes, as well with the recent addition of eight new offices and three new faculty members, the Center is now one of the largest centers of its kind in the nation.
Curriculum Development: Existing and Planned Programs
As part of its initiative to increase its course offering and further develop the various areas of instruction in Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers, CMES has developed several new programs in concert with the local communities: the Contemporary Arab Studies Program (CASP), the Contemporary Iranian Studies Program (CISP), and the Islam in the Contemporary World Program (ICWP).
In addition, Center faculty members have proposed a new Iranian Studies undergraduate minor and are currently working with the faculty at the Department of Africana Studies on the development of an Arab Studies undergraduate minor and with the faculty at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese to produce a professional certificate program in translation and interpretation.