Grant Will Give Students a Better Understanding of Middle Eastern cultures

A $170,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help TCNJ strengthen its Middle Eastern and Central Eurasian studies programs. The two-year project, which began this fall, will expand the College’s own Arabic language program, and will provide Persian language instruction to TCNJ students through an arrangement with Rutgers University Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

The grant also will expand TCNJ’s curriculum in Middle Eastern and Central Eurasian studies. A series of faculty-development workshops led by scholars in the fields of Iranian and Central Eurasian studies will be held over the next two years. Select faculty in the Schools of Culture and Society, the Arts and Communication, and Business will attend these workshops, and use the knowledge gained to develop 17 new courses.

In addition, two new study abroad/exchange programs will be developed in conjunction with the program: one in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and one in Istanbul, Turkey. Additionally, a special seminar on Central Asia will be offered in spring 2010, and that seminar will be linked to a student-faculty study tour in May 2010 to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

The project was designed and will be co-directed by two faculty members, Jo-Ann Gross, professor of history, and Deborah Hutton, associate professor of art history.

“This region of the world is one that is in the news a lot of late, but for the most part our knowledge of it remains fragmentary. This grant gives us the opportunity to develop resources that will in turn give our students the opportunity to develop a deep and nuanced knowledge of this important region of the world,” said Hutton.

“We are particularly excited about our students having an opportunity to study Persian and the very special opportunity for the student-facultystudy tour to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan,” Hutton added.

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