The Arab and Islamic Studies undergraduate program certificate at UNT is the first of its kind in North Texas, proudly presented by UNT’s CAMSCI (Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute). CAMSCI was established in 2008, but the undergraduate program starting in the fall of 2014 was conceived back in 2007 when the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation asked Dr. Bataille, former UNT President, to establish an academic institution that offers degrees in Arab and Islamic Studies.“The dream is becoming a reality,” said Dr. Hind Jarrah, TMWF co-Founder.
By offering the Arab and Islamic Studies undergraduate certificate to all majors, the program builds cultural bridges between Americans and the Arab and Muslim world.
Students will acquire knowledge skills about Arab and Islamic cultures, economies, societies, and politics. The program is characterized by its cross-cultural interactive communication where students are encouraged to learn Arabic, complete 12 hours of course work at UNT in relevant fields, and either study abroad in the Arab/Muslim world or volunteer in relevant service projects. In a nut shell, students get a well-rounded real experience of the Muslim and Arab world.
The reasons that the people behind CAMSCI’s outreach program gave for this pioneering project are as follows: “he Arab and Islamic worlds are important regions of the world due to abundance of oil, oil revenues, strategic value to the United States and the west, sources of political instability including crisis of authority and democratization and security problems including a variety of geo-political conflicts, the future of Iraq, Afghanistan and the spread of nuclear weapons. In view of these serious issues, it is important for our university to introduce a certificate in Arab and Islamic Studies for our students who are majoring in different disciplines." (CAMSCI’s website)
Indeed, CAMSCI has steadily contributed to the North Texas community over the past few years through diverse outreach programs like panel discussions, presentations, film screenings, film festivals, art exhibitions, and other events that addressed one or more feature of Middle Eastern current events and cultures.
Most significantly, the initiation of such a program in North Texas adds to the wealth of the region and makes Denton another beam in cultural diversity outreach. So far, DFW, and especially Dallas, has been outstandingly competitive in interfaith relations and building community bridges between the Muslim community and the larger community. Now, academics opens a new field of interaction and communication, guided by experienced and knowledgeable scholars who are willing to train students for future leadership roles in a diverse world.
I, personally, have a desire to see some Islamic religious studies included in UNT's new project, since students of Islamic religion can't find local programs to pursuie academic degrees in North Texas. If this can be accomplished, then Denton and Dallas may become the forerunners in Texas Islamic studies.
Students who are interested in applying to the Arab and Muslim Studies certificate can find more information at CAMSCI’s website’s outreach page.