May 3, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Class of 2019 Includes Middle East & North Africa Studies Certificate Students

Black and white map showing Middle East and North Africa, and labeled Middle East and North Africa Studies, Ohio University

The Ohio University Class of 2019 features the second installment of students graduating with a Middle East and North Africa Studies Certificate.

The certificate program provides undergraduate students from across campus with a focused interdisciplinary combination of courses on the history and contemporary politics of the region.

Class Profile

The 2019 class of the OHIO MENA Studies Certificate program includes seven undergraduates, drawn from five majors spread across three colleges. Each student completed no less than five courses in at least three departments, all of which focused on some aspect of the Middle East and North Africa region.

Four of the seven graduates also completed the Certificate in Islamic Studies. Some of those also completed a third minor or certificate in Political Science, World Religions, East Asian Studies, or Law, Justice & Culture.

While there is no language requirement for the MENA Studies Certificate, five of the seven graduates completed at least two years of Arabic language courses at Ohio University.

Two of the graduates spent a semester abroad in the region, one in Amman, Jordan and the other in Rabat, Morocco.

Four of the students wrote undergraduate theses on topics dealing with the Middle East or U.S. foreign policy in the region.

Diverse Courses

The MENA Studies Certificate program draws from over 15 courses regularly offered by a combination of five departments from across Ohio University. Examples of courses offered during upcoming 2019-20 academic year include:

  • HIST 3371: Middle East History, 1500-Present
  • ANTH 3820: Cultures of the Mediterranean
  • ARAB 1120: Elementary Arabic II
  • CLWR 3330: Introduction to Islam
  • POLS 4902: Law and Colonialism
  • MDIA 4170: Media and the Muslim World

See the complete listing of Fall 2019 courses that count toward the Middle East & North Africa Studies certificate.

Engaging Events

While the bulk of the MENA Studies program’s efforts are focused on the certificate, the program also organizes a range of events designed to complement in-class education and speak to contemporary debates about the region. Examples of events organized during the 2018-19 academic year include an Athena Cinema screening of In the Last Days of the City, art installations by Lebanon-based Tania El Khoury and Dictaphone Group, and public lectures by Professor Nour Erakat on “Contemporary Renewals of Black-Palestinian Solidarity” and Professor Loren Lybarger on “Islam and the Arab Uprisings.” These events and others were organized in partnership with a range of departments, programs, and centers at Ohio University.

Student Experiences in MENA Studies

“The MENA studies certificate exerted a tremendous influence on my studies at Ohio University,” said Aaron Long, B.A. in Journalism. “I would also forward that the classes I took through the MENA certificate program offered me a far more in-depth understanding of the region than I would have possessed otherwise. Had it not been for this program, I likely would have left Ohio University with the same paltry understanding I possessed upon enrolling.”

The MENA Studies Certificate has been “monumental” for Tori Jester, B.A. in Sociology-Criminology. “Along with the academic success of this certificate, I find that having a certificate that focuses on the particular region of the world to be beneficial to individuals who want to understand the world outside of academia. It has allowed me to be critical and open to new understandings of international relations, economics, and politics. I would recommend the MENA certificate program to everyone, as it has allowed me to be more engaged and aware of the world we live in today.”

Adam Ben-Porath, B.A. in Political Science and War & Peace, said the program allowed him “to explore and dive deeper into an area in which I was already passionate. The combination of the courses offered across the different disciplines, including History, Political Science, and Classics and World Religions really helped me to form a holistic understanding of the region and its peoples. I have had nothing short of exceptional experiences in working with the affiliated faculty, all of whom demonstrated a true commitment to their research and to sharing their knowledge with their students. I know that going forward I will be able to rely on what I have learned in this certificate program to make myself a better scholar, but also a better citizen of the world.”

For Kyle Driscoll, B.A. in History, “The MENA certificate has … helped dispel cultural misconceptions and broadened my knowledge of a region and peoples that are connected to my own.  The general work of a historian is to understand the past, however even that most basic of definitions can run into trouble when studying the Middle East and North Africa…. The certificate helped me become aware of these pitfalls and the legacy they have left behind in the hopes of creating a more accurate and just way of study.”

“The MENA studies certificate has given me the unique opportunity to personalize my education at OU and focus-in on a region and culture that I have always been drawn to,” said Marianne Dodson, B.A. in Journalism and Political Science. “The courses and complementary events have been the perfect supplement to my two majors and they have … helped prepare me for future travel to the Middle East and North Africa.”

More Information

Students, faculty, and advisers interested in learning more about the Middle East and North Africa Studies Certificate should contact the coordinator of the program, Dr. Ziad Abu-Rish at

Oriental mosaic decoration in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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