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This item originally appeared in the Feb. 5, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

An opportunity for the entire university to partake in a different cultural learning experience with the commencement of "The Media and the Middle East" program will be offered this spring by the College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Brian Etheridge, principal investigator for the project and an assistant professor of history, said the project was put together by the departments of journalism, political science and social sciences.

Etheridge said the program will include coursework from all three departments, public lectures and other activities aimed at enlightening students on the issues of the Middle East and its relevance to the United States and the world.

"We want to raise awareness about the region," Etheridge said. "We hear a lot about the place but don't know what is going on or what it is all about."

The classes offered this spring as part of the project are History 528, taught by Etheridge; Journalism 440, taught by Dr. Reginald Owens, an associate professor of journalism; Liberal Arts 494C, taught by Dr. Kenneth Robbins, director and professor of the School of Performing Arts,; and Political Science 460, taught by Dr. Jo Allen Richardson, an associate professor of social sciences.

Etheridge said this venture is sponsored by the Board of Regents, the College of Liberal Arts and the American Foreign Policy Center. He also said the departments involved are contributing a broader view of the subject across disciplinary lines.

"In putting the program together, based on the grant from the Regents, we want to build a program that brings together different aspects of the liberal arts," Etheridge said. "We came up with a topic that each [department] deals with in its own unique way."

Robbins is one of the professors who will teach a course during the program.

Robbins said he got involved in the project because of the knowledge it provides about the Middle East.

"Students learning will be enriched and gain insight to the nature of the Middle East, Islam and [students will] also know how we deal with that region of the world," Robbins said.

Chris Wells, a sophomore health and exercise sciences major, said he is excited about the program and the benefits it offers to the students.

"Anytime you can learn the background of [places] like that it is very interesting to do, and it may help in the long run," Wells said.

Etheridge said outside lecturers will also be involved in the quarter-long program and will give public presentations as well as speak in the different classes.

The speakers are Peter Hahn, Mark Tessler, Lee Hockstader and Elizabeth Fernea. Etheridge said they are all well-respected lecturers known for their outstanding work in their various fields.

Peter Hahn, a well-known historian of U.S foreign policy in the Middle East will visit the campus from March 31-April 2. Hahn has won research grants from sources including the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Truman Library Institute and the John F. Kennedy.

His forthcoming book, "Caught in the United States and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945-1961," comprehensively composes the history of U.S involvement in the Arab-Israeli relationship.

Mark Tessler will visit the campus April 5-7. He has received more than $5 million in funding for research and study concerning the Middle East. His recent book, "A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict," discusses the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Lee Hockstader, The Post's bureau chief for the Southwestern United States, based in Austin, Texas, will visit from April 21-23.

Recently, he returned to the United States from a 13-year stay overseas. He has reported from more than 40 countries with the most recent job in Jerusalem, as a correspondent for The Washington Post.

Elizabeth Fernea, a filmmaker and an author, will visit from May 12-14.

Fernea will present her most recent film, "Living with the Past: Historic Cairo" and give talks on topics including "In Search of Islamic Feminism."

Fernea has authored books such as "Narratives of Middle Eastern Childhood" and produced films such as "The Struggle for Peace: Israelis and Palestinians" for PBS.

All of these presentations will be held in the Wyly Tower of Learning Auditorium and will be free and open to the public.

The College of Liberal Arts will also bring Dr. Ramez Maalouf, an assistant professor of journalism and cultural studies and director of the Beirut Institute of Media Arts at Lebanese American University in Beirut.

Maalouf will give several presentations from April 11-May 1, one of which will be an April 29 lecture titled "Rethinking the Arab Mind."

The final event for the program will be the College of Liberal Arts Symposium, scheduled for May 10.

For more information, contact Etheridge at 257-2872.

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