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About CSME

The Indiana University Center for the Study of the Middle East endeavors to promote scholarly and cultural understanding of the Middle East via outreach, financial and academic support, and campus events.


CSME supports pursuits involving the understanding of our core Middle Eastern Languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. We frequently support IUB faculty and students who are committed to further exploring our core languages, and are involved in supporting the Turkish Flagship Program, and hope to contribute in developing an Arabic Flagship program at IUB soon. We are also attempting to expand language coverage to include Kurdish.


Furthermore, via our outreach program Alef Ba, we strive to promote the understanding of the Arabic language to local youths in the Bloomington community. Alef Ba is in its seventh year running and is sponsored through The Center for Global Change’s “Bridges: Children, Languages, World” project. Volunteers work with community partners to teach Arabic to K-8 students and to build a greater awareness of Middle Eastern and North African cultures in the local community.


CSME works with various faculty, staff, and students on grants and grant proposals. Additionally, CSME is involved with bringing various visiting scholars to Indiana University, in order to promote a scholarly understanding of the Middle East


Dozens of events are sponsored and co-sponsored by CSME throughout the academic school year. We are dedicated to providing the student body with forums in which the various political, religious, linguistic, and cultural issues surrounding the Middle East can be discussed, and will often bring scholars from the Middle East to IUB for a chance in which students have real and engaging interactions.


Stop by the Center for the Study of the Middle East on 1105 E Atwater Avenue and check out our various other projects that we are engaged in.

A Message from the Director

Welcome to the Indiana University Center for the Study of the Middle East (CSME), a Title VI Comprehensive National Resource Center. This is a particularly prestigious designation, conferred by the US Department of Education, and shared by CSME and only 14 other Middle East centers at universities across the United States. With some 100 members of the IUB faculty located in the College of Arts and Sciences and six professional schools, CSME promotes multi- and inter-disciplinary knowledge of the Middle East by supporting academic programs, scholarship, public outreach, and support for educators and students at all levels. The Middle East has long been a center of political, cultural, religious and linguistic fascination. It is of tremendous importance to the vital strategic interests of the U.S., and never more so than at this moment of unrest and turmoil across the region.

Understanding of the Middle East cannot occur without a solid grounding in the modern languages of the region. Thus, CSME supports the study of modern Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, and Persian. Using NRC funds, we are also developing the country’s first communicative curriculum in Kurdish. We expect a pilot course to begin in the Summer Term in 2015, through our partner institution, IU’s Summer Language Workshop. With other partners across the Bloomington Campus, CSME also sponsors and supports degree and non-degree programs enhancing scholarly understanding of the Middle East. CSME does this, in part, by facilitating close academic collaboration between our flagship departments, Borns Jewish Studies Program, Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS), and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), and the professional schools that are also constituents of CSME.

CSME plans to continue to strengthen understanding of the Middle East. We will accomplish this through teacher training in cooperation with the existing NRCs and the School of Education, as well as through outreach programs to teachers in K-16 programs in the State of Indiana. To do so, CSME will emphasize historically underserved populations. In addition, CSME develops curricula, enhances library collections that reflect our current breadth of teaching, expands faculty, builds capacity, and engages in outreach to local schools and the broader community regarding the Middle East. We are convinced that nurturing area expertise in K-12 teachers and thus students, as well as our broader community, promotes a better-informed citizenry across our State, especially providing opportunities to expand the horizons of Indiana’s pre-collegiate students. We are committed to this mission.


-Amb. Feisal al-Istrabadi

Founding Director,
Center for the Study of the Middle East