National Endowment for the Humanities Announces Summer Seminars, Institutes

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At the conclusion of last month's column, I speculated about the nature of future National Endowment for the Humanities (NBH) offerings. Indeed, the CampusWatch/Middle East Forum crowd for some time has been calling for greater "scrutiny" of various departments of Middle Eastern studies around the nation. In today's atmosphere of fear-mongering pundits urging clampdowns of one sort or another, will the NEH cease providing opportunities for teachers to learn about the Middle East? The answer-for the summer of 2004, at least-is in.

These NEH opportunities fall into two categories, one for pre-collegiate and the other for university (including adjunct and junior college) faculty members. Each provides a stipend, which varies according to the number of weeks entailed, but is almost always sufficient to cover transportation, housing, meals and materials.

Pre-collegiate teachers may apply for seminars and institutes held in the United States and overseas, ranging from a study of Mozart and Vienna, to Literature and Religion in Pre-Revolutionary Russia, to Colonialism's Impact on the Shaping of English National Identity, to the Worlds of the Renaissance. There is nothing this year, however, that addresses the modern Middle East specifically. On the other hand, there is Archaeology in Jordan: Cultures of the Ancient Near East. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2002, and postponed due to "the political situation," this institute will be in the field from june 23 through Aug. 4, 2004, on Jordan's Madaba Plains, a location which has seen human habitation for thousands of years. To get started, visit Dr. Gloria London's home page at and click on "Tall al'Umayri Teachers' Institute." Primary- and secondary-school teachers may apply for one seminar or institute, only.

College and university-level teachers may apply for up to two seminars or institutes-and three of the 21 projects offered this year address Islam and/or the Middle East. The first, Diversity and Debates in Contemporary Islam, will be held at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs. Additional information about the six-week institute, which runs from june 21 through july 30, may be obtained from John R. Bowen at .

The second, Ways of Communicating in the Pre-Modern Islamic World, will be held at the University of Chicago by Fred M. Donner and Kenneth R. Hall, and is scheduled for the same june 21 through july 30 time period. Contact Professor Donner at . The third institute, Religion and Politics in India: Historical and Contemporary Experiences, is scheduled for june 7 through july 9 at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Additional information may be obtained from .

Regardless of the topics, teachers' levels, dates or locations, all these summer activities for teachers have a firm deadline of March 1, 2004. Additional information may be found for all on the following Web sites: and , as appropriate.

So, have the fearful succeeded? Are there fewer NEH opportunities for us this year? I do not think so. Although there are few projects this year, I believe the number remains in the same ballpark as in years past. I am bearing in mind, however, that successful applications for NEH funding were selected many months ago, before the unanimous passage in October of H.B. 3077-"The International Studies in Higher Education Act"-which goes much farther than the routine reauthorization of the Title VI enhancement of international studies. It does, in fact, "target" programs in Middle Eastern studies for additional scrutiny. The bill's provision to establish a new "international higher education 'advisory' committee," which is in fact "an investigative body," is a very bad idea, a very bad precedent. …