The central mission of the MEI, in accord with its long-established institutional duties and responsibilities, is to foster an interdisciplinary and inter-departmental approach to enhancing Columbia’s world-class Middle East program. The Institute works to strengthen and broaden the curriculum by supporting courses to supplement departmental offerings, and it provides a vibrant forum for faculty and students to work together across the different disciplines through workshops, lectures, conferences, and social events. The institute administers governmental FLAS fellowships to students for language study and for research in the region and at home, and it advises students on courses, language programs, and career opportunities. Working to inform and educate the media, government, and the general public about the Middle East, the Institute also collaborates with other regional institutes and units of the university to advance knowledge about issues and processes that now transcend one region.
To complement its newly assumed responsibilities in administering the MA Program in Islamic Studies (see below), the Institute is taking steps to organize and mobilize the far-flung and hitherto unrealized capacity of the university in this venerable field. In pursuit of this new role in support of Islamic Studies, the Institute has moved beyond a restricted commitment to the Middle East and North Africa region, and beyond familiar departments and disciplines.