INTERDISCIPLINARY.
CONTEMPORARY.
CULTURAL.
EDUCATION.

The University of North Texas is the only academic research center in the United States focusing on the study of contemporary cultural issues of the Arab and Muslim worlds. This is the mission of CAMCSI.

The Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI) is an interdisciplinary institute composed of faculty drawn from the visual arts, social sciences, and humanities at the University of North Texas. CAMCSI serves UNT as the coordinating body and the primary source of support for the various courses and academic programs that cover the Arab and Muslim worlds, which include the Arab states, Iran, Turkey, central and south Asia and other parts of the world with Muslim communities.

The Institute was established in 2008 with a research and service mission, to respond to the critical need for the understanding and further the interdisciplinary studies of the contemporary Arab and Muslim worlds at UNT. An Institute focusing specifically on contemporary cultural issues fosters a mutual appreciation, both within the United States and elsewhere in the world, of the richness and the complexities that unite as well as divide the many communities that make up the populations and geographic regions of the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Research and service activities of CAMSCI are organized in four primary areas:

Arabic Language | Media + Popular Imagination | Cultural Diversity | Visual Arts

The activities of the Institute emphasize the above four areas as they interact with academic disciplines including anthropology, economics, political science, applied linguistics, women's studies, history, art, music, etc.

CAMCSI commitment aims to reach wide — pre- and post-secondary educators and students, independent scholars, the media, business, and the general public — through the institute's many activities. These include the following:

Actively supporting the teaching and research of UNT's Arab and Muslim worlds specialist faculty, graduate students, and scholars through research and travel grants. Increasing the availability of related courses at UNT, including through hosting visiting faculty and study abroad programs. Organizing and sponsoring lecture series, film series, seminars, art exhibits, and major research conferences. Enhancing area languages teaching and learning at UNT through direct and indirect support of both teachers and students. Promoting interdisciplinary and collaborative work through partnerships and joint sponsorship with other institutions in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Supporting Arab and Muslim worlds-related community and cultural activities and programs.

  1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

 

Texas is the second most populous, and one of the ten fastest growing, states in the U.S. With close to 23 million citizens, it is the nation’s fifth largest media market.  Texas is the home of 16 of the nation’s 153 and the world’s 500 largest multinational corporations.  It is also becoming host for a large Muslim population evident from the following facts and figures:

·         It has a Muslim population estimated at over 180,000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001) with a high concentration in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metropolitan area.

·         There is a growing number of native Arabic speakers in the North Texas region and the United States more broadly, and a growing critical need for greater Arabic language proficiency among the first and second generation learners. 

 

To meet this growing demand for Arabic instruction, there must be training for teachers who can teach Arabic at all levels and to learners of all ages.  To complement successful language instructor training there must be advanced programs developed in arts, culture, and the understanding of media images. However, limited educational, academic and cultural resources are developed and very few programs are offered for these communities.  There is currently not a single academic research center in the United States that focuses on the study of contemporary cultural issues of the Arab and Muslim worlds.  In the Southwest, there is only one center with even a related mission, the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. But this center does not have faculty or professional resources in contemporary cultural studies that can compare to those available at the University of North Texas.

 

The Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI) intends to enhance Arabic language learning opportunities, offer cultural events and provide educational programs for the surrounding communities. Various projects will be designed to strengthen community ties with the university by providing academic, educational and cultural programs to Muslim communities in the Metroplex area. 

 

As a new organization CAMCSI has initiated a momentum in connecting with the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in the surrounding areas, developing an enthusiastic support group, and offering exciting programs.

 

  1. ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND

 

The University of North Texas is a recognized student-centered public research university where we harness the power of ideas through a culture of learning based on diverse viewpoints, interdisciplinary endeavors, creativity and disciplined excellence. UNT is a very diverse university with over 36,000 students of whom about one third are from minority communities. With over 2000 international students, the university has a large number of students from Muslim communities in the area and students from several Middle East countries. UNT offers unique academic and cultural opportunities to the Muslim world. It has several academic partnerships with Muslim countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  It also received a Fulbright grant to strengthen the Arabic language course to bring a teaching assistant from the Middle East.

 

With these resources UNT established the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute (CAMCSI) in 2008 with an initial funding of $25,000 from the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation for scholarships to respond to the critical need for the understanding of Arab and Muslim cultures. The Institute specifically focuses on contemporary cultural issues to foster mutual appreciation, both within the United States and elsewhere in the world, of the richness and the complexities that unite as well as divide these many communities.  

 

a.      Brief statement of organization’s mission and goals.

CAMCSI is an interdisciplinary institute composed of faculty drawn from the visual arts, social sciences, and humanities at the University of North Texas. CAMCSI serves UNT as the coordinating body and the primary source of support for the various courses and academic programs that cover the Arab and Muslim worlds, which include the Arab states, Iran, Turkey, central and south Asia and other parts of the world with Muslim communities.

 

The CAMCSI mission is to foster interdisciplinary research on cultural issues in the modern Arab and Muslim worlds and to promote mutual understanding and dialogue, regionally and globally.

With this two-fold mission of offering research and cultural programs, the Institute activities emphasize language, media, visual arts, and cultural diversity as they interact with academic disciplines including anthropology, economics, political science, applied linguistics, women’s studies, history, art, music, etc.

 

b.      Description of current programs, activities, and accomplishments.

Research and service activities of CAMCSI are organized in four primary areas:

Arabic language, cultural diversity, media and the popular imagination, and visual arts.

 

The Institute activities emphasize the above four areas as they interact with academic disciplines.  CAMCSI aims to reach wide— pre- and post-secondary educators and students, independent scholars, the media, business, and the general public — through the institute’s many activities. These include the following:

·         Actively supporting the teaching and research of UNT’s Arab and Muslim worlds specialist faculty, graduate students, and scholars through research and travel grants.

·         Increasing the availability of related courses at UNT through hosting visiting faculty and study abroad programs.

·         Organizing and sponsoring lecture series, film series, seminars, art exhibits, and major research conferences.

·         Enhancing area languages teaching and learning at UNT through direct and indirect support of both teachers and students.

·         Promoting interdisciplinary and collaborative work through partnerships and joint sponsorship with other institutions in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

·         Supporting Arab and Muslim worlds-related community and cultural activities and programs.

 

c.       Organizational chart

CAMCSI consists of five organizational components: Director, Internal Advisory Committee, External Advisory Council and, Affiliated Faculty.  The CAMCSI Director, Dr. Nada Shabout provides the overall leadership to the organization, in collaboration the Internal Advisory Committee, including internal and external communication, planning and implementing programs, and administrative responsibilities. The Internal Advisory Committee comprises representatives of UNT faculty and administration who participate in the decision making process of the Institute and assists the Director in plans and strategies.  The External Advisory Council includes representative of national and international organizations who are interested in CAMCSI’s mission, goals and objectives.  A support group of UNT Affiliated Faculty is actively involved in implementing programs with their expertise in their areas of research and teaching.  The following organizational chart represents the five components of the Institute:   

Figure 1 CAMCSI Organizational Chart

CAMCSI works with the following personnel in its core components:

Director: Nada Shabout.

Internal Advisory Committee includes the following members:

·         Marie-Christine Koop, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

·         Tania Khalaf, Department of Radio, Television, and Film

·         Robert Milnes, College of Visual Arts and Design

·         Emile Sahliyeh, International Studies Program

·         Nada Shabout, Art History

·         Sandi Spencer, Women's Studies Program

·         Nancy L. Stockdale, Middle Eastern History













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