Academics

What We Do

The interdisciplinary BA in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Studies provides a coherent grounding in the history, cultures, artistic production, and one or more of the languages of the MENA region. (MENA is defined for this purpose as comprising the Arabic-, Hebrew-, Persian-, and Turkish-speaking areas of the world.)

MENA Studies capitalizes on BU’s remarkably strong offerings in four Middle Eastern languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish) and many aspects of Middle Eastern and North African culture and politics. It is designed to be flexible, easily tailored to each student’s particular interests and learning goals, whether those focus on a certain country in the region or a particular transnational issue. MENA Studies works well on its own or as a double major with International Relations or a disciplinary major.

The major is known for its rigorous language work: our students learn one or more MENA languages, normally taking three or four years of language courses. They also develop competence in both humanities and social sciences. The mini-seminar ME 101 helps them integrate these disciplinary approaches and understand the utility and limits of each. Every major builds a “MENA Portfolio,” tracking his or her coursework, language learning milestones, study abroad experiences, and reflections. Seniors may present their research projects at an annual majors’ conference.

Through discussions with MENA faculty and fellow students, MENA Studies majors have a continuous opportunity to explore, deepen, and perhaps revise their own preexisting beliefs and ideas about this contested region. Our majors come to understand the disciplinary and other biases most prevalent in the region and how they are often replicated among scholars. Intellectually sophisticated, competent across cultures, and equipped with solid language skills, they will graduate well prepared for top MA and PhD programs and for careers in government, local and international nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.