FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 6, 2007
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081
MTSU MIDDLE EAST CENTER CELEBRATES YEAR OF ACHIEVEMENT
More Focus on Arabic and Hebraic Cultures Coming in 2007-2008 Academic Year
(MURFREESBORO) – The Middle East Center celebrates the conclusion of its inaugural year with a bittersweet farewell and plans for even more enlightening activities in the near future.
Younes Riyani, lecturer and doctoral candidate at Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Tetouan, Morocco, returned to his homeland last month. The Fulbright Scholar spent the past academic year at MTSU working on his doctoral dissertation.
“The concern of my dissertation is to show the affiliation of American representation of Morocco with French representation of Morocco,” Riyani said in a pre-departure interview.
Specifically, Riyani is examining American impressions of Morocco between 1912 and 1956, the time of Spanish and French colonization. His goal is to reread those texts from another perspective overlooked by Western scholars, but he said he does not intend to bash the West for viewing the Arab world through a Caucasian mindset.
“There is a chasm between the political society and the academic society,” Riyani said. “So the academic society has the spirit to create an equal dialogue between cultures, between civilizations.”
That viewpoint largely characterizes the purpose of the fledgling Middle East Center.
“In a kind of institutional fashion, what you do is build bridges through your exchanges,” said Dr. Allen Hibbard, English professor and center director.
In one short year, it has seen the approval of an interdisciplinary minor in Middle East studies, an introductory course in the subject, classes in first-year Arabic and Hebrew and a community outreach program aimed at middle school and high school teachers.
In addition, several accomplished scholars were brought to campus, including Riyani’s fellow Fulbright Scholar, Muhammad Masud of Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan, who served as a teaching assistant in elementary Arabic courses.
Plans are underway to bring Dr. Abdul Aziz Said, founder of American University’s Center for Global Peace, and Dr. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to MTSU this fall in conjunction with
conferences on diversity and the Holocaust, respectively. In addition, MTSU will co-sponsor an international conference in Tangier next May.
“This year, we’ve been fortunate to have a federal grant, an Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages grant offered through the Department of Education, and that’s a matching grant so that when we put in our proposal there is a commitment from the university to match the dollars,” Hibbard said.
The center has established its own brick-and-mortar headquarters with phones and a part-time secretary, Chantal Rich, in Room 104 of the Midgett Building. Hibbard attributes the center’s rapid growth to leadership and backing from President Sidney A. McPhee, Vice President and Provost Dr. Kaylene Gebert, and College of Liberal Arts Dean Dr. John McDaniel, as well as the immediacy of worldwide political issues and the enthusiasm of faculty and students.
“We’re investing our time and energy into this new program, and that’s contagious,” Hibbard said.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: For a color jpeg photo of Younes Riyani, contact Gina Logue in the Office of News and Public Affairs at 615-898-5081 or email@example.com.