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October 21, 2014
A 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.
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:
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.
For more about the centers, visit http://global.unc.edu/centerinstitutes/.
September 15, 2014
The 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 email@example.com. 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.
Applicants should send the following materials as e-mail attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
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.
September 1, 2014
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.
August 29, 2014
Since he began working at Duke, Mohsen Kadivar has worked closely with faculty and students both on campus and down the road a bit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Both campuses boast small but well-regarded religious studies departments. When Kadivar joined Duke as a visiting professor in 2009, he was quickly recruited by UNC-Chapel Hill to give an occasional guest lecture, and since then he has taught and mentored students at both universities.
Now, the relationship has become more formal. This fall, Kadivar will hold the Nannerl Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship, an appointment spanning both schools. The Islamic philosophy scholar will spend the semester teaching “Religion and Culture in Iran, 1500-Present,” a course he has not taught previously, on UNC’s campus. It is open to undergraduate and graduate students from both universities.
August 20, 2014
This week, as first-year students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine engage in a new and different curriculum, a delegation of doctors from Iraq’s University of Baghdad is on campus meeting professors, doctors, administrators and students to learn how UNC is teaching the next generation of doctors.
The collaboration, funded through the International Medical Corps (IMC), aims to enhance the curricula in the 23 medical schools throughout Iraq, starting with the University of Baghdad College of Medicine. Iraq’s education system has already moved to a six-year education model common to European universities, where students begin their medical education at age 18. But Iraqi medical educators turned to UNC to learn how a top American medical school revamped its curriculum to improve an already top-tier institution.
The Iraqi delegation is visiting classrooms to observe UNC’s new curriculum in action, including how UNC professors integrate basic science with real-life examples of disease states that students will see in the clinic.
August 19, 2014
By Candace Mixon
From May 23, 2014 until July 12, 2014, I travelled to Istanbul, Turkey and from there to Iran to study visual and material culture related to modern religious practices and the Ahl al-bayt, or the Family of the Prophet Muhammad. My research was supported by the Roshan Institute Fellowship for Excellence in Persian Studies, the Carolina Center for Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, and the American Institute of Iranian Studies.
During my time in Iran, I visited Tehran, Mashhad, Qom, Esfahan, and Shiraz, and carried out a variety of activities from visiting museums, universities, libraries, and cultural centers to city exploration and photography.
May 5, 2014
“Students in Shai Tamari’s PWAD 670 course, Challenges to Peace-Making in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, have grappled throughout the spring semester with some of the complex, intractable issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Discussions have ranged from the importance of narrative and identity in evaluating political options to the more concrete aspects of the conflict, such as settlements, lobby groups and Israeli and Palestinian internal politics… The trip to Washington, D.C., served as our opportunity to engage with the different groups responsible for pushing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process forward. We met with them with the confidence and tools that we have developed through our coursework, and we were prepared, if necessary, to be able to challenge their perspectives.”
March 20, 2014
In a New York Times op-ed, UNC Professor Zeynep Tufekci analyzes the dynamics of large-scale protests spurred by social media, such as the mass funeral held last week in Istanbul, Turkey. Tufekci argues that “Protests like this one, fueled by social media and erupting into spectacular mass events, look like powerful statements of opposition against a regime. … Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale.” Tufekci proposes that “Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.”
February 28, 2014
In a report issued this month by the Triangle Institute on Terrorism and Homeland Security, UNC Professor of Sociology Charles Kurzman traces the upward trend of negative feelings towards Muslims in the US despite the small number of Muslim suspects and perpetrators of terrorist acts. Read the report, “Muslim-American Terrorism in 2013,” here. An article by Kurzman on the data, published on IslamiCommentary is available here.