We are pleased to announce that the University of Chicago Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) has been awarded over $2.6 million from the U.S. Department of Education for the period of 2022 to 2026.

CMES, one of the longest established interdisciplinary centers on campus, is a recipient of two grants from Title VI of the Higher Education Act (International Education Programs). CMES has been designated a National Resource Center (NRC) and will administer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to support the advanced study of modern, less commonly taught languages (Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Uzbek) and international and area studies related to the Middle East.

This funding will support a variety of activities on campus, as well as K-16 outreach initiatives, including professional development opportunities for educators and promotion of global, co-curricular activities with local schools, community colleges, and minority-serving institutions. Title VI-funded educational outreach will also deepen the University's relationships with educational and cultural institutions throughout Chicago, especially on the South Side. 

We look forward to continuing and enhancing its efforts to promote teaching, research, interdisciplinary scholarship, and greater public understanding of the Middle East.


During the 2022-2026 cycle, CMES aims to meet Title VI and FLAS objectives in the following ways:

  • CMES will support beginning through advanced level language instruction and rich co-curricular programming in Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and other Turkic languages. We aim to bolster the quality and currency of language instruction by partnering with the Chicago Language Center (CLC) in: oral proficiency test training, innovative course development, and placement/proficiency testing at all language levels. Co-curricular programming includes the expansion of CMES’ signature language circles and additional enrichment activities in Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish.
  • CMES aims to advance interdisciplinary research in Middle Eastern studies by supporting faculty- and student-organized conferences and lecture series. CMES is currently working with Penn State University on a NEH-funded project entitled “Reimagining Jewish Life in the Modern Middle East, 1800-Present: Culture, Society, and History.” CMES faculty are also working on a multi-year project examining the modernization of languages in the Middle East in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Funded activities will support these initiatives in addition to other faculty-led projects.
  • NRC funds will be used to support the University’s singular library collection through new acquisitions and student bibliographic assistant positions.
  • Building on a legacy of excellence in outreach to the diverse communities of Chicago and beyond, CMES will develop and/or enhance the following areas:
    • CMES hosts the Chicago Arabic Teachers’ Council and regularly organizes professional development workshops and conferences for K-12 Arabic teachers. Funds will be used to support four-skill proficiency testing for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Arabic students, to develop new materials for the CPS Arabic language and culture curriculum, and to support professional development and cultural events for our K-12 partners.
    • Since 2014, CMES has worked with other University of Chicago National Resource Centers in partnering with City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), our response to the NRC Competitive Preference Priority for outreach to community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The partnership has flourished, and currently includes: professional development workshops and co-curricular programming with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting; a CCC faculty fellowship to support curricular internationalization; guest presenters in CCC classrooms; and access to UChicago NRC resources. These programs will be expanded in 2022-26.
    • CMES joins with other University of Chicago National Resource Centers in sponsoring the annual International Education Conference (IEC) and Summer Institute for Educators (SIE). These events provide valuable professional development opportunities for the full range of educators in our outreach networks, including faculty at CCC.
    • The CMES Middle East Education Initiative will support a wide array of outreach programming, including: teacher professional development, arts and culture programming, film series, the CMES Ventures podcast, expansion of the CMES YouTube channel, and innovative new hybrid and remote programming.
  • CMES and other University of Chicago NRCs will add new career development programming. 
  • FLAS awards will be offered in Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, and Uzbek.