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Welcome to the Middle East and Islamic Studies Website!



In Middle East and Islamic Studies

UCR Undergraduate and graduate students

Deadline of submission: April 30, 2024

The first and second best undergraduate prizes will be awarded to papers (minimum 6 pages in length, double spaced) written by UCR undergraduates with a MAJOR or MINOR in Middle East and Islamic Studies (MEIS) OR NON MAJORS taking courses taught by MEIS faculty member.

The first and second best graduate paper prizes will be awarded to papers (minimum 8 pages in length, double spaced) written by UCR graduate students of any discipline working with MEIS faculty members. The papers demonstrate a critical analysis of the Middle East and the Islamic world across disciplines and time periods.

The MEIS faculty members are to nominate their students for the competition or students may submit their papers to the director of MEIS, Prof. Muhamad Ali at his email by April 30th, 2024. The paper may be written in Spring 2023, Summer 2023, Fall 2023, and Winter 2024. The evaluating committee will make a decision by the end of May.

The prizes for undergraduates and graduate students will be a cash award and a letter of recognition. The student names and the titles of the papers of the winners will be posted on the MEIS website.

For more information, please visit our website and/or contact MEIS director, Professor Muhamad Ali,

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The major and minor in the Middle East and Islamic Studies offer a broad course of interdisciplinary and theoretically informed study. It is designed to provide a broad understanding of the history, politics, and culture of the Middle East and Muslim societies. The coursework introduces students to the complexity and diversity of the cultural and geographic regions that are represented in the Middle East and Islamic world with focuses on the history, religion, gender and sexuality, literature, art, popular discourses, culture, and politics.

MEIS faculty are currently drawn from the Departments of Anthropology, Comparative Literature and Languages, Hispanic Studies, History, Media and Cultural Studies, Religious Studies, Theatre, Film, and Digital Production, the History of Art, and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Their research and expertise canvass a vast and diverse area from Muslim Spain to Ottoman Greece, and North Africa, in the west, to Central Asia, Indonesia, and South Asia, in the east.  Thematically, MEIS faculty examine such issues as social, economic, urban, gender and legal history; Arabic language and literature; identity politics; media in India; theatre and representation; literary studies; state, society, and religion; history of Islamic art, gender and modernity; Islam, colonialism, and modernities, Islamic movements; human rights; transnationality; and pluralism.

MEIS also attends to these themes in relation to language proficiency, broad information literacy, critical analysis, theoretical questions, research, and writing skills, which the study of “regions” or “cultural areas” requires. Do they have historical knowledge, analysis, and reading skills (primary and secondary sources)? What are the terms through which, an understanding of a “region” or “area” are articulated? How are such domains defined and what are the histories and politics, which have occasioned their formation? How does critical attention to these questions give way to new pedagogical and research objects? And, finally, how do these new objects come to be newly and differently articulated through the experience and lives of our students and their writing? A good number of our survey and upper-division courses allow students to participate in interactive learning by taking part in these debates through oral communication and classroom presentations.

MEIS promotes a comparative and critical study of this vast region over a long time period through coursework to gain language proficiencyinformation literacybreath and depth coveragecritical reading skills and analysisresearch and writing proficiency as well as oral skills. Students majoring and minoring in MEIS are required to take general survey courses as well as more specialized upper-division courses to fulfill these learning outcomes. Our capstone course, MEIS 199 which can be taken with MEIS faculty for two quarters tests all the learning outcomes outlined above and in addition, provides a capstone research and writing experience on a particular theme in their senior year.

The UC-Study abroad programs in the region also provide cultural immersion, an opportunity to enhance language proficiency as well as internships to gain country-specific experience.  Our best paper prize evaluates all the learning outcomes and rubrics by a committee composed of MEIS faculty every year. 

Student Learning Outcomes:

  1. Acquire a general understanding of Middle Eastern and Islamic societies and cultures.
  2. Understand a variety of approaches to the study of the Middle East and Islam and demonstrate a critical understanding of these approaches through writing short essays, research papers, and exams.
  3. Communicate their ideas effectively in a seminar setting through oral presentations and research papers
  4. Acquire a clear understanding of the state of the field and engage critically with the discipline through identifying primary sources and materials relative to a topic in their papers
  5. Engage in cultural immersion by studying abroad and taking courses that we do not offer (languages) in other UC programs.

Our majors have entered graduate programs such as Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Chicago University and Georgetown University, American University, and others.
Careers and employment opportunities include international organizations, the United Nations, think tanks, education, government, international business; international law; public health; museum and art gallery, and graduate school.

The MEIS major and minor could be combined with any field. We urge students to consider study abroad and doing an internship through UCDC or any other organization. Check our Facebook and Website for upcoming opportunities. Please check us out on Facebook and like us to get regular updates on deadlines, events, internships, fellowships, new courses, and news about our activities.