Middle East Studies at Brown University promotes knowledge, understanding, and informed discussion about the Middle East, Islam, and Muslim societies through research, teaching, and public engagement.


Housed in the Watson Institute and supported by the Dean of Faculty, Middle East Studies (MES) has, since 2012, grown from an undergraduate concentration into one of the top programs in the country. Eschewing the hothouse legacy structures of the conventional Oriental and Area Studies models, MES is driven by thematic research initiatives that tap into Brown’s tradition of interdisciplinary, critical, and engaged scholarship. Organized through partnerships, MES seeks to integrate Middle East and Islamic Studies into the larger streams of intellectual life at Brown University by building a cutting-edge research community, producing innovative programming, and offering an exciting array of courses and opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.  

Research Initiatives

Middle East Studies is organized around niche research initiatives that seek to shape fields of knowledge through annual workshops, publications, pedagogy, and public outreach.

  1. Displacement and the Making of the Modern World
  2. Islamic Humanities**
  3. New Directions in Palestinian Studies
  4. Engaged Scholarship in Zones of Conflict
  5. Arts and Social Change

** Includes a) the Aga Khan Professorship in Islamic Humanities and b) Digital Islamic Humanities.