Welcome to the Middle East Studies Program

The Middle East Studies Program (MESP) fosters knowledge of the Middle East, its past and current economic, social and political developments, and seeks to facilitate teaching, learning, research and public awareness of the diverse array of Middle Eastern languages, cultures, and peoples.

At the core of MESP’s mandate is the pursuit of firsthand knowledge about the range of cultures, languages, and challenges that make this region so unique. All countries, topics and political positions are studied. Our broad interdisciplinary approach encompasses the humanities and social sciences as well as the arts and natural sciences.

MESP helps sponsor conferences, speakers, training programs, and other activities related to the Middle East. MESP further seeks to guide and train students who plan to make a career in or related to this field. We prepare tomorrow’s leaders by equipping them with knowledge about Middle Eastern languages, cultures, and societies.

What are the career opportunities?

  • International Business & Education
  • Peace and Conflict Resolution
  • Travel & Tourism Industry
  • Translation & Interpreting
  • International Security
  • Public Administration
  • Government/Politics
  • Market Research
  • Non-profits
  • Consulting
  • Media

MESP Certificate

The MESP offers a certificate for undergraduate students, promoting the acquisition of the basic skills and concepts as well as the more in-depth knowledge derived from specific disciplines or professions that engage with the Middle East as a field of study.

The Undergraduate Certificate requires a total of eighteen (18) credits in courses with at least 25% Middle East content in addition to completing the "second semester of a Middle Eastern language". Here are some of the NEW COURSES offered in the Spring of 2017 (other courses are offered at UW-Madison).

PDF versions of the certificate description & requiements and our Spring 2017 course listing are available here.

Language Programs

The MESP houses and supports comprehensive modern Middle Eastern language programs in Arabic, Hebrew (biblical and modern), Persian, Turkish, and Azeri, providing students and other undergraduate and graduate students across UW-Madison with advanced language proficiency to support their research and fieldwork.

Study Abroad Opportunities

The MESP encourages its students to spend time abroad. Studying in a Middle Eastern country provides firsthand exposure to the region’s society and culture and leads to greater fluency in foreign languages through interaction with native speakers. In addition to these intellectual and professional benefits, students will have the opportunity to travel and make new friends, leading to memories that will last a lifetime!

The University of Wisconsin's International Academic Programs currently has several study abroad opportunities in the region. You can find out about each program at studyabroad.wisc.edu.

Additional Resources and Opportunities for Students Interested in the Middle East

Spring 2017 Events

  • February 6, 2017
    Fighting Islamophobia
    A diverse panel including U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil, Development Director for Madison-Area Urban Ministry Nasra Wehelie, researcher Safi Kaskas, Imam Alhagie Jallow and Dr. Golnar Nikpour discuss Islamophobia in the US.
  • February 10, 2017
    UW Cinematheque Premiere Showcase: Starless Dreams
    In collaboration with the UW Cinematheque and with an introduction from A.W. Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Golnar Nikpour, MES presents Starless Dreams.
  • March 6, 2017
    MES Lecture Series: Nadav Shelef
    Lecture details to be announced.
  • April 24, 2017
    MES Lecture Series: Juan Cole (Professor of History at the University of Michigan)
    "Paganism and Muslim Peace-Building in the Mecca Period (610-622): What does the Qur'an Say?"
    Later Muslim accounts posit an essential enmity between Muslims and pagans in the Hejaz, leading to the wars of the 620s. These Umayyad and Abbasid accounts have influenced the interpretations of contemporary scholars. A close examination of Qur'anic texts from the Meccan period, however, reveals a consistent and strongly held option for peace. It will be argued that the sanctuary status of Mecca as a holy city made this experiment in peace theology possible.

Fall 2016 Events

  • October 9, 2016
    5k Run for Refugees
    A 5K Run for Refugees will be hosted by the United Nations Associations-Dane County Chapter and Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity. The proceeds will be donated to the World Food Program to support refugees worldwide. Children and Pets are welcome! .
  • October 10, 2016
    MES Lecture Series: miriam cooke (Professor of Arabic at Duke University)
    Creativity, Resilience, and the Syrian Revolution
    Dr. miriam cooke discusses the resilience of creativity in the face of catastrophe during the Syrian Revolution.
  • November 29, 2016
    An Evening with Laila El-Haddad
    Gaza: From Blogging to Cooking and Everything in Between 4:30pm
    A conversation with Laila El-Haddad based on topics raised in her book, Gaza Mom, led by Prof. Nevine El Nossery.
    Laila's Table: A Celebration of Palestinian Food and Culture 6:00pm
    Reflections by Laila El-Haddad on her book, The Gaza Kitchen, followed by a cooking demonstration and a potluck social featuring samples of Palestinianfood, including dishes inspired by recipes from the book.

For more information, please contact the Middle East Studies Director, Nevine El-Nossery, at elnossery@wisc.edu.