In the fall of 2018, Denison University is commencing a new academic program, the Middle East & North African Studies (MENA) concentration. The new concentration includes courses connected to anthropology and sociology, economics, history, international studies, political science, religion and modern languages. It is positioned to prepare students for many career opportunities, including global corporations, government, nonprofit and service agencies, and graduate study.
“We’re very excited about the MENA program,” says Hanada Al-Masri, associate professor of modern languages and director for the program. “Students will have many options to learn experientially about the region: via a study abroad; an internship at an NGO, business, or governmental organization; a research project related to the MENA region; or community work in areas with predominantly Middle Eastern populations.”
Denison Provost Kimberly Coplin noted, “The MENA concentration is an extension of our efforts to continue to globalize our curriculum. We are finding that across the professions, cross-cultural competencies and other global attributes are growing in importance. The range of skills, values, and habits that students acquire through global experiences, such as adaptability, creative problem solving, and thinking across categories and boundaries, matter even more in the emerging economy.”
Called by many “the cradle of civilization,” the Middle East and North Africa is a fascinating area that substantially impacts much of the world. With the MENA concentration, students approach this region from an interdisciplinary point of view through six courses that include an Arabic language requirement. In addition to coursework, the MENA program requires an experiential component, through a study abroad or internship, a research project or community work in a MENA region.
“Being globally literate, confident, and engaged opens up endless possibilities to add meaning to one’s life,” says Coplin.