Tulane should add Middle Eastern Studies Department, Major, Minor

Kevin Young, Staff Writer

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Tulane has failed to establish an academic program on the world’s most tumultuous region – the Middle East – and it is time that Tulane fixed this.

Students at Tulane University can major in a wide array of fields, from more traditional disciplines such as mathematics and linguistics, to unconventional areas like political economy and musical cultures of the Gulf South. Tulane even does well in interdisciplinary area studies – fields that did not gain prominence in Western academia until after World War II – boasting renowned programs in African and African diaspora studies, Latin American studies and Asian studies.

Though the Middle East is primarily home to the Islamic civilization, many cultures call this region home.

Christians – though widely persecuted in the region – have lived in the Middle East for millennia. This area, where their prophet Jesus Christ was born, is very important to the religion.

The Levant, also known as the Eastern Mediterranean, is home to the world’s only Jewish state – Israel – and is a recipient of Islamic terrorists’ rocket attacks. Together, Christians and Jews make up the overwhelming majority of Tulane’s religious population and thus these events in the Middle East should be reason enough for Tulanians to seek an education in Middle Eastern studies.

Aside from personal connections to the Middle East and desires to learn more about the world’s most volatile region, there are also more practical financial benefits to studying the Middle East. The U.S. Department of Labor has reported that the amount of Arabic translators needed is rapidly increasing. Many companies have reported that they are often willing to pay up to $200,000 to employees who can speak Middle Eastern languages such as Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

Outside of linguistics, professions that deal with human rights, oil, diplomacy, security and academia are all within reach for Middle Eastern studies students. This is especially true when students combine a major in Middle Eastern studies with a more traditional major like political science, economics, history or business.

Despite these reasons for establishing a Middle Eastern studies program at Tulane, we must note that the process will be arduous.

European historians do not debate whether the Holocaust happened or if Jews are people, but Middle Eastern historians do debate whether the Armenian genocide happened or whether Kurds are people.

This reality shows how important it is that Tulane use scholars with diverse views to work together to establish a Middle Eastern studies program.

Tulane should join other prestigious American universities like Harvard University and Vanderbilt University in establishing a Middle Eastern studies program.

Kevin Young is a sophomore in the Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]