Over the past several years, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies programs have grown on college campuses nationwide. In keeping up with new demands for courses in this area, Brandeis' IMES program is adding three news classes.
Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe said the courses deal with issues in the modern Middle East and will be taught by faculty and researchers associated with the Crown Center for Middle East Studies.
This semester, Prof. Shai Feldman (POL) teaches a new class POL 170A: "Arms Control in the Middle East." Next spring, Crown senior fellows Mohammed Samhouri and Eric Graber will teach ECON 122B: "The Economics of the Middle East" and Crown postdoctoral fellow Naghmeh Sohrabi will teach NEJS 183A: "Modern Middle East History through the Arts and Popular Culture."
Prof. Avigdor Levy (NEJS), the IMES chair, said his department is enthusiastic about the Crown Center's course offerings. He predicted his program will continue to grow because of the University's dedication to the subject and the Crown Center's continued efforts to increase awareness on the Middle East.
IMES at Brandeis is an interdepartmental program sponsored by the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and faculty in other departments. It was founded in 1981 and became an interdisciplinary program in 1990.
"We had courses at the time, and we felt it would be a good idea to incorporate all the individual courses in a coherent program that would set out certain requirements and general guidelines," Levy said about the major's creation.
But the young program has taken off in the last few years, now with 25 students declared as IMES majors. There has also been a significant increase in the number of students enrolled in the program's core course-Islamic Civilization-and in Arabic language classes, Levy said.
The increased interest in the Middle East on campus has to do with the current international situation and the heightened media coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.
IMES major Yuval Brokman '08 said the events of September 11th and the changing political scene in the Middle East are contributing factors to the increased interest in the subject.
"I think it's important to understand any other culture," he said when asked why he chose to be an IMES major. "It's impossible to understand what's going on there without understanding the culture."