Arabic Language and Middle Eastern/North African Cultural Studies Program

2002 Heiskell Award Winner: Internationalizing the Campus

Nomination submitted by: Norman J. Peterson, Ph.D, Director, Office of International Programs

Program Mission 
Students in the Rocky Mountain and Northern Plains region have the opportunity to learn Arabic via distance learning technologies at their own institution. The University of Washington's Middle East Center will provide an excellent program of language and cultural studies to be transmitted by Montana State University to seven regional institutions. Teaching assistants, whose native tongue is Arabic, will assist classroom instruction at each site.

 After successfully completing two semesters of language instruction, students will have the opportunity to continue their Arabic and cultural studies at Montana's partner university, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. During their study abraod time at Al Akhawayn, students will be able to continue their regular course of study in classes offered in English.

The Arabic Project addresses the important challenge of providing instruction in less-commonly-taught languages. As financial resources become scarcer, this program has modeled how to internationalize on-campus course offerings and integrate them with study abroad experiences in an affordable and sustainable way to create a new approach to university-level language instruction. This is achieved by reconfiguring other resources: combining distance education technologies, faculty expertise, international students, and study abroad opportunities. Through a design that carefully integrates these four resources, the Arabic Project offers the opportunity for student at participating institutions to take three or more years of Modern Standard Arabic, including a semester or academic year in Morocco.

The design of the Arabic project is based on several mutually supportive instructional mechanisms, including the integration of technology with more traditional elements (e.g. study abroad and Teaching Assistants) and the seamless integration between the language curriculum the student follows on the home campus and the continuation of the language program pursued during study abroad. This instructional program is built around a consortium of universities developed specifically for the Arabic Project with a unique division of responsibilities. Participating institutions pool resources for the common instructional program and pay for the local costs.