Q&A with Asian Studies Chairwoman Nadia Yaqub

January 14, 2015

the-daily-tar-heelGunmen attacked the headquarters of French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 after the magazine published cartoons satirizing the Prophet Mohammad, killing 12 people and injuring others.

Daily Tar Heel staff writer Marisa Bakker interviewed Nadia Yaqub, chairwoman of UNC’s Department of Asian Studies and coordinator of the Arabic program, about the tension between the western free press and Islamic extremism, which could have led to the Charlie Hebdo attack.


Journalism School Deans Respond to the Charlie Hebdo Attack

January 8, 2015

jesuischarlieVisit Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy site to read the Carnegie-Knight Consortium of journalism school deans’ (including UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication Dean Susan King) response to the Charlie Hebdo attack.

PlayMakers Continues PRC2 Season with ‘Wrestling Jerusalem’

December 31, 2014

PlayMakersposterPRCWrestlingJerusalemPlayMakers Repertory Company will present the regional premiere of “Wrestling Jerusalem,” written and performed by Aaron Davidman, Jan. 7-11.

PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

PlayMakers brings Davidman’s acclaimed one-man show to the Triangle as part of its PRC2 series. PRC² features innovative, topical presentations coupled with engaging and insightful post-show discussions with the creative artists and expert panelists following each performance.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. nightly and 2 p.m. on Jan. 11 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Ticket prices start at $15 and may be purchased at www.playmakersrep.org or by calling (919) 962-PLAY (7529). Tickets are also still available as part of PlayMakers subscription packages.

“Wrestling Jerusalem” grapples with identity, history and social justice, exploring the competing narratives at the center of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict that has lasted generations. The San Francisco Chronicle calls it a “remarkable solo performance” [of] “yearning beauty … deep sadness and wistful hope.”


UNC Hosts Visitors from the Embassy of Israel

December 3, 2014

From left to right: Gauss, Vargas, Tamari, Strauss, Miller, Marmorstein, Hartlyn

From left to right: Gauss, Vargas, Tamari, Strauss, Miller, Marmorstein, Hartlyn

Visitors from the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. and the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta met with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill representatives on Nov. 19 to discuss opportunities to develop deeper relationships with Israeli universities.

Oren Marmorstein, counselor for public and academic affairs at the Embassy of Israel to the U.S., and Gillian Miller, academic director for the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast U.S., who were in North Carolina visiting universities, also shared resources and support that the embassy and consulate can provide for universities pursuing student exchanges and research collaborations with colleagues in Israel.

UNC participants in the lunch discussion included Ron Strauss, executive vice provost and chief international officer; Jonathan Hartlyn, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts and Sciences; Shai Tamari, associate director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations; Rodney Vargas, Latin America, Africa, and Middle East programs director in the Study Abroad Office in the College of Arts and Sciences; Ari Gauss, executive director of North Carolina Hillel; and Melissa McMurray, international liaison officer for UNC Global.


Doing Better: UNC, Duke Team Up to Enhance Understanding of Middle East

November 22, 2014

While UNC and Duke are rivals on the basketball court, the two schools’ faculty, staff and students often join forces to take on pressing global, national and local issues and challenges.

While UNC and Duke are rivals on the basketball court, the two schools’ faculty, staff and students often join forces to take on pressing global, national and local issues and challenges.

Winter’s coming, and the Duke-UNC rivalry is heating up. The schools’ football teams battled Thursday night in a nationally televised game. Their men’s basketball teams are both ranked in the Top 10, and their women’s teams are in the Top 15, promising fans plenty of reasons to trade insults this season.

Well away from the spotlight, however, the two universities collaborate far more often than they compete. Over the next several years, they’ll extend an important initiative they began decades ago: enhancing our state’s and nation’s understanding of one of the world’s least understood regions – the Middle East.

The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies recently won a four-year, $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, cementing its status as the Southeast’s premier center for studying a region that is constantly in the headlines.

The consortium, which was formalized in 2008, brings together the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and the Duke University Middle East Studies Center. The two institutions will use the grant to fund joint courses, workshops, outreach to K-12 schools, academic fellowships and projects with national media, business and government officials. The initiative builds on an informal partnership on Middle East studies that the universities began in the late 1950s.

“We need to raise the level of conversation about this region,” says Carl Ernst, co-director of UNC’s Carolina Center. “We want to get information based on real expertise into the conversation and make it available in a very comprehensive way.”


UNC Hosts International Journalists As Part of Edward R. Murrow Program

November 5, 2014

murrow2014The UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication hosted 20 journalists from the Near East and North Africa from Oct. 30 – Nov. 4 as part of the 2014 Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists.

The journalists’ visit was part of a three-week exchange to examine the essential role of independent media in fostering and protecting freedom of expression and democracy. The Murrow Program is a flagship initiative of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program, and is a public-private partnership with nine leading schools of journalism that host the participants.

UNC J-school faculty members Chris Roush, Steven King, John Clark and Gary Kayye gave presentations during the program. Shai Tamari, associate director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, and Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain and adjunct faculty member of Islamic Studies at Duke University, also presented.

The group also toured local media organizations that included WUNC, UNC-TV and The Daily Tar Heel.

The Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists honors the legendary CBS News radio reporter whose career included historic coverage of World War II and later critical reporting on Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Murrow would go on to be appointed director of the U.S. Information Agency.

Program participants actively tweeted their experience using the #IVLPMurrow hashtag.

Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies Awarded Title VI Grant

October 21, 2014

edsealA recent award from the U.S. Department of Education firmly positions the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East studies as the principal National Resource Center for Middle East studies in the southeastern United States. The Consortium is a collaborative project of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (CCSMEMC) at UNC, and the Duke University Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC).

The Duke-UNC Consortium is among a select group of academic institutions awarded Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education for the 2014-18 grant cycle. The grant, totaling nearly $2.4 million, will support and promote administration, faculty positions, course development and pedagogy related to Middle East languages and content; workshops, seminars and speaker series; collaboration with local, regional and national media, business, and government officials; outreach to K-14 schools; and Foreign Language Area Studies  (FLAS) fellowships for the study of Middle East languages.

UNC’s Middle East center has been supporting Middle East-related activities since 2003, while Duke’s Middle East center was established in 2008. The Duke-UNC Consortium previously was designated as a Title VI Comprehensive National Resource Center for Middle East Studies in 2010-14; fifteen Middle East National Resource Centers were awarded in the current cycle, and only twelve received FLAS grants.

Charles Kurzman, co-director of CCSMEMC and professor of Sociology at UNC, underscored the significance of the grant. “This award establishes UNC and Duke as the leading center for engagement with the Middle East in this part of the country,” Kurzman said. “We are especially pleased to have been awarded the largest number of FLAS fellowships of any Middle East center in the country.”

Universities across the country compete for Title VI money every four years. Other UNC centers that were funded include the African Studies Center, the Carolina Asia Center, the Center for European Studies, the Center for Global Initiatives, and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Latin American Studies.

“We are extremely proud to have succeeded in this prestigious competition,” said CCSMEMC co-director Carl Ernst, Kenan professor of Religious Studies. “UNC has become a major center for the study of Middle Eastern culture and its languages, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu.”

Barely a decade after the founding of CCSMEMC, the university now boasts the largest enrollments in Middle Eastern languages, the largest Middle East library collection, a significant collection of Middle Eastern art, and the most impactful Middle East-related outreach in the southeastern United States.

“This grant is a major achievement that reflects the growing national and international prominence of our programs in Middle East Studies and recognizes the vision, hard work, and dedication of faculty, staff and students,” said Jonathan Hartlyn, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNC.

UNC Global and Area Studies Centers Awarded $9.1 Million in Federal Education Grants

October 15, 2014


Six global and area studies centers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will receive approximately $9.1 million in competitive federal Title VI grants over the next four years.

Through two programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education, UNC has been awarded approximately $1.14 million for National Resource Centers (NRC) and $1.14 million for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) scholarships for 2014-2015. Federal funding for international education has tightened in the past few years, and this cycle’s application process was especially competitive. In the past cycle, 144 National Resource Centers were funded, and in the current cycle, 100 were funded.

“The grants support many key programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and beyond, including language instruction, teaching, research and community outreach that spans the globe,” said Karen M. Gil, dean of the college. “With these international centers, we are educating our students to be the leaders of tomorrow in a fast-changing global society.”

UNC has consistently been among the top U.S. universities in the number of these resource centers with six, which are located in the FedEx Global Education Center. Five area studies centers are part of the college, and the sixth is the pan-university Center for Global Initiatives.

“These awards allow UNC-Chapel Hill to substantially advance global education and the scholarly opportunities for our students and faculty. The work of these centers enhances international research and learning, and this is critical to our being a leading global public research university,” said Ronald P. Strauss, executive vice provost and chief international officer for UNC.

Interdisciplinary programs supported through the centers by the federal grant awards include:

  • Opening Access to Global Opportunities: Opens opportunities for traditionally underrepresented students pursuing international education.
  • Languages Across the Curriculum: Integrates languages — from Arabic and French to Spanish and Korean — into courses offered outside language departments.
  • Faculty Support: Supports language instruction, research, teaching and curriculum development.
  • World View: Helps teachers in community colleges and grades K-12 internationalize their courses and activities through seminars and symposia, international study visits abroad and online instruction.
  • UNC School of Education: Collaborates with centers to support internationally focused teacher training programs.
  • Foreign Language and Area Study Fellowships: Provide graduate and advanced undergraduate students with academic year support for language and area studies courses and intensive summer language instruction, with a particular priority on less-commonly taught languages.

The following centers have received U.S. Department of Education grants. Approximate NRC grant amounts are listed first after each center’s name. FLAS awards are listed second.

  • African Studies Center ($804,800; $840,000): One of 10 NRCs in the U.S. focusing on Africa, the center provides a hub for interdisciplinary studies on the continent.
  • Carolina Asia Center ($836,000): The center is the first pan-Asia NRC located in the Southeastern U.S. to be funded by the Department of Education and one of 15 NRCs nationwide focused on Asia or East Asia.
  • Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations ($567,672; $708,000): One of 15 NRCs focusing on the Middle East, it is part of the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies, a hub for research, education and outreach.
  • Center for European Studies ($908,000; $930,000): One of seven centers focused on Western Europe, it is also one of only five centers nationwide that receive funding from both the U.S. Department of Education and the European Commission.
  • Center for Global Initiatives ($1.04 million; $1.19 million). The center is especially focused on opening access to global opportunities to traditionally underrepresented students, faculty and staff.
  • Institute for the Study of the Americas ($393,474; $870,000). One of 16 NRCs focused on Latin America, it is part of the UNC-Duke Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, created in 1990 after 50 years of informal cooperation between the two.

For more about the centers, visit http://global.unc.edu/centerinstitutes/.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carnegie Fellowships in Support of Arab Region Social Science

September 15, 2014

Old-Well-CalligraphyThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill invites applications from early-career social scientists affiliated with universities in the Arab world for semester-long fellowships in Fall 2015.

With support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the fellowship offers advanced doctoral candidates or post-doctoral scholars within five years of their Ph.D. an opportunity to work with a faculty mentor at UNC-Chapel Hill, participate in ongoing research groups, and, if they desire, audit graduate seminars. The program is intended to provide an intensive intellectual experience, including advanced methodological training, for Arab social scientists at a formative stage of their career. The selected fellows must be physically based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the full semester of their fellowship. Fellows will participate in the scholarly activities of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, including the presentation of their research at the Center’s colloquium series.

While any research subject will be considered, applicants working on issues related to food and food security, broadly conceived, may also be considered for a fellowship at UNC’s Global Research Institute and awarded additional privileges at the university, including access to research clusters.

Applications for Fall 2015 fellowships are due on December 15, 2014. Application materials should be sent by e-mail to mideast@unc.edu. Applicants are asked to identify one or more faculty mentors at UNC-Chapel Hill, propose a research and training agenda for the fellowship period, and supply two letters of recommendation. Applications will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary committee of scholars at UNC-Chapel Hill. All fellows must be affiliated with an Arab university and must be currently engaged in research in any social science discipline, or social-scientific work in information science, law, public health, and other fields. Individuals primarily employed by think tanks or other non-university entities cannot be considered. The program anticipates offering three fellowships in Fall 2015, with a salary of $30,000 each, plus benefits including health insurance, and support for travel to the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.

Application Procedures:

Applicants should send the following materials as e-mail attachments to mideast@unc.edu by December 15, 2014:

1. Letter indicating your academic background, research focus, a research and training agenda for the fellowship period, and one or more faculty mentors at UNC (in English).
2. Curriculum vitae (in English).
3. Sample(s) of scholarly social-scientific writing (in any language).
4. Two letters of recommendation (in English; should be sent directly by recommenders to mideast@unc.edu).

Applicants are encouraged to contact potential mentors on the faculty at UNC well in advance of the application deadline, so as to inform them of your interest in the fellowship and inquire about their willingness to serve as a mentor.

Dispatches from India: The Practice, Performance, and Politics of Sufi Shrines in South Asia and Beyond

September 1, 2014

Carl Ernst

Carl Ernst

UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies Professor Carl Ernst was in India this summer as principal academic organizer of an international workshop on “Practice, Performance, and Politics of Sufi Shrines in South Asia and Beyond,” held August 1-4, 2014 in Ellora-Khuldabad, Maharashtra State.

Dr. Ernst shared with the Transcultural Islam Project’s Transcultural Islam Research Network (TIRN) a write-up on this workshop by Prof. Philip Lutgendorf  (President of the American Institute of Indian Studies), as well as details on a series of lectures Ernst delivered at Indian universities subsequent to the workshop.