Established in 1954 to support research and teaching on the Middle East, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies has produced generations of scholars with a profound understanding of and active engagement in the region. At the core of the Center’s mandate is the pursuit of firsthand knowledge about the Middle East based on literacy in its languages and a deep understanding of its diverse politics, cultures, and histories.
Our broad interdisciplinary approach encompasses the humanities and social sciences as well as the arts and natural sciences. To this end, CMES engages with faculty from across Harvard University whose teaching and research focus on the Middle East, with departments, professional schools, and other regional studies centers, and with Harvard libraries and museums holding exceptional and unparalleled collections related to Middle Eastern and Islamic studies. Our dynamic academic community includes over forty faculty, a diverse cohort of more than fifty graduate students, and an annual contingent of twelve to fifteen visiting researchers.
Educating the Next Generation of Experts
The Modern Middle Eastern language programs in Arabic, Persian, and Turkish housed at CMES and the Hebrew language program at Harvard's Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) are designed to help students develop Middle Eastern language skills that will enable them to work at the highest levels of scholarship and teaching in their chosen field.
CMES alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in academia, NGOs, business, government, journalism, and more.
Supporting Research and the Dissemination of Knowledge
Promoting Scholarly Exchange
CMES’s resident scholarly community is augmented by an annual cohort of 12 to 15 visiting scholars and post-doctoral researchers. Highly distinguished international visiting faculty help enrich our offerings by serving as H.A.R. Gibb Lecturers and Shawwaf Visiting Professors.
Bringing Diverse Global Perspectives
CMES’s vast array of ongoing seminar series and topical workshops bring regional experts and diverse perspectives to the Harvard community and beyond. CMES hosts long-standing public lecture series including the Middle East Seminar (co-sponsored with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs) the Middle East Forum, Sohbet-i Osmani, and the Israeli Law, Literature, and Society series, co-sponsored with the Center for Jewish Studies. In response to the unprecedented rapid and dramatic changes that have taken place across the Middle East, CMES organized working groups to address the ongoing transformations in the Arab world with an emphasis on politics, literature, and film and visual arts. Ad hoc round table forums organized at CMES on topical regional issues provide an interactive forum for timely scholarly discussion of complex events in the region with participants who have often just returned from the epicenter of these events.