About the Center

Sheikh Lotf Allah mosque wall and ceiling; Photo by Phillip Maiwald (Nikopol)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.

CMES hosts public events throughout the academic year that foster academic and cultural engagement with issues relevant to the study of the Middle East region and its peoples. The center is also home to the Middle Eastern Studies Program (MESP), which offers an undergraduate major and minor, through which students are able to study with faculty experts in many different disciplines.

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.