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Bush school expands Middle Eastern studies

Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 02:10

Texas A&M’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service will expand the study of the Middle East over the next four years, primarily from a regional security perspective.

In July, the Levant Foundation of Houston donated $1 million to establish a research endowment, fellowship and professorship at the Bush School.

“This has been an important decision for us because [the program] is not so much an area studies program as it is a focus on security issues,” Samuel Kirkpatrick, executive associate for academic affairs and management at the Bush School, said. “Our focus is always going to be, because of President Bush’s tradition, on national security, on international security and on relationships between countries.”

As part of the Bush School’s efforts to strengthen Middle East studies, Mohammed Tabaar, professor of International Politics of the Middle East, joined the faculty this fall.

Tabaar was born and raised in Iran and has a Ph.D. in comparative politics and international relations from Georgetown University. While earning his Ph.D., Tabaar was also a journalist for the BBC World Service and a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

“In my course, I focus on the history and culture, but not at the expense of politics of the region,” Tabaar said. “We focus a lot on what is happening now and try to arm students with some theoretical framework to apply various political science theories to the region.”

Nour Hamed, an international student from Iraq studying in the master’s program in international affairs, said Tabaar is a valuable asset to the Bush School.

“In his international politics of the middle east class, students engage in objective discussions on a wide range of important topics,” she said. “I think it is important for the school to expand its program on the Middle East, given the region's critical importance to U.S. national interests as well as the increasing instability in that part of the world.”

The first piece of the grant given to the Bush School is the Jamal Daniel Middle East Research Endowment that will support research and professional development of both faculty and students focused on contemporary, public and international affairs of the Middle East. In the second year, the Jamal Daniel Faculty Fellowship will support faculty members’ teaching, research, service or any combination related to the Middle East. The third and largest amount of $500,000 will support the Jamal Daniel Professorship to fund a senior faculty member’s research, teaching or service activities.


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