The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Harvard University today opened its first overseas office, in Tunisia, home to a tradition of learning and research that extends from Antiquity to the present. The office and the year-round programs run from the location are made possible by the support of Harvard College alumnus Hazem Ben-Gacem ’92.
“The Middle East is a part of the world that you’ll never fully understand unless you get your feet on the ground and experience it first-hand,” said William Granara, CMES Director and Professor of Arabic. “Thanks to Hazem’s generosity, Harvard students and scholars have greater resources to pursue in-depth field research and can more substantively engage in language and cultural immersion experiences.”
“From the beginning the hope has been to establish an outpost where Harvard faculty and students would come to discover Tunisia—its history, language, culture, art, and people—and integrate this experience into their scholarship and education,” said Ben-Gacem. “I’m very excited by this first step towards a substantial Harvard presence in Tunisia.”
Founded in 1954, CMES, through interdisciplinary teaching and research, has produced hundreds of graduates with Middle East and North Africa expertise who have gone on to directly impact students, scholars, and the public both in the United States and around the world. Its Tunisia office will provide students and scholars with a bridge to renowned Tunisian archival facilities, serve as an incubator for analysis of the evolving social, cultural, legal, and political movements in the region, and offer an intellectual hub for scholars of, and from, Tunisia, the Maghreb, the Mediterranean, and the wider Middle East region.
“Broadening the contexts in which teaching and learning happen at Harvard is a crucial element of our engagement with the world. We are always seeking opportunities to make the University more intentionally global, and the field office in Tunisia will bring the world to Harvard and Harvard to the world in exciting new ways that will shape important work across fields and disciplines,” said Harvard president Drew Faust.
Programs available at the Tunis location for students and faculty from across the University include Harvard Tunisia Scholarships for Harvard graduate and undergraduate research, funding for Harvard faculty sabbatical research, an Arabic language summer program for Harvard graduate and undergraduate students, and a three-week Winter Session course for Harvard students.