The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies is the only academic center in the United States focusing exclusively on the Arab world. Since its founding in 1975, CCAS has prepared new generations of diplomats, scholars, teachers, policymakers, and leaders in the business and nonprofit sectors capable of critical thought, constructive dialogue, and creative engagement with the Arab world. CCAS advances research in the field of Arab Studies not only through its academic programs, public events, education outreach, and multimedia projects, but also by regularly hosting prominent scholars, visiting researchers, and post-doctoral fellows at the Center.
Our flagship Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program trains students in the language, history, culture, society, politics, and economics of the contemporary Arab world. The interdisciplinary degree allows students to craft their own program of study, developing both a breadth and depth of knowledge in a range of critical issues facing the region today. CCAS also offers both a graduate and undergraduate Certificate in Arab Studies to students currently enrolled in a qualifying degree program at Georgetown University.
Each semester, students, faculty, and the community have the opportunity to learn from an impressive and varied list of invited speakers who provide an academic context for understanding the Arab region. These events provide a forum for academics, policy makers, representatives from non-governmental organizations, political leaders, activists, filmmakers, visual artists, authors, and musicians from the Arab world, the United States, and other countries.
Since 1997, CCAS has served as a U.S. Department of Education Title VI National Resource Center on the Middle East and North Africa (NRC-MENA). As a National Resource Center, CCAS hosts a robust K-14 Education Outreach program, offering workshops, curriculum development, and online resources to help teachers convey a nuanced and realistic view of the Middle East and its peoples, cultures, and religions in a global context.
CCAS hosts more than 150 videos and podcasts of past events on our Youtube and Soundcloud channels. They include talks from prominent scholars, artists, activists, and dignitaries and speakers from our Summer Institutes for K-14 Educators, which are made possible by Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, our biannual publication, the CCAS Newsmagazine, features articles and essays by faculty, students, and alumni on issues impacting the contemporary Arab world, as well as highlights of the many activities at CCAS. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for news from the CCAS community.
History of CCAS
Who are the Arabs? To answer this question, a group of scholars in 1975 established Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). They recognized that there was a failure on the part of American universities to provide their students with adequate opportunities to know the Arab world and sought to meet this need. Among the faculty who contributed greatly to the Center in its early days and years after were internationally renowned experts such as Dr. Hanna Batatu and Dr. Hisham Sharabi.
The phrase that makes up the Center’s logo, al-‘Arab al-yawm (The Arabs Today), captures their vision. The logo was designed by Palestinian artist Kamal Boullata.
CCAS is part of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, the oldest school of international affairs in the United States. In recognition of CCAS’s work for the first ten years, Senator J. William Fulbright wrote the following in 1985:
“With remarkable foresight, Georgetown University moved to fill the need for understanding the Arab people by creating the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies… a significant contribution to our country.”
Building on this legacy, CCAS has established itself as the most comprehensive university-based Arab studies program in the United States. It focuses on the contemporary Arab world, from Morocco to the Gulf, through teaching, scholarship, public events, research, publications, and outreach to the community. Today, CCAS is a premier source of information on issues concerning the Arab world both within the classroom and for the larger community.
CCAS Core Principles and Commitment to Diversity
CCAS is committed to fostering an environment that is inclusive of all groups and to elevating diverse voices, especially Arab world perspectives, through our curriculum, events and programming. We work with colleagues in other departments and programs, as well as with a variety of institutions in the Washington D.C. area, to organize events and educational opportunities that provide diverse viewpoints. At CCAS, we approach admissions through a holistic approach, cognizant that the diverse experiences and backgrounds of our students is one of our greatest strengths.
We are also committed to adopting policies within our academic program, as well as through our engagement beyond Georgetown, that proactively address the systemic barriers that have at times excluded marginalized groups from our program, school, and the broader field of Middle East Studies. In light of recent events in the United States and around the globe, on June 5, 2020 the CCAS community also publicly addressed its “Commitment to Combat Racism.” To that end, and at the urging of our students, we formed a Racial Justice Task Force with a mission of “honestly confronting racism, especially anti-Blackness.” This taskforce of students, faculty, and staff seek to do this by “confronting racism in the Middle East and the study of the Middle East, while also building racial justice and equality within the Center so that we can create an equitable environment for all who come to Georgetown University in pursuit of knowledge about the region.”
Since its inception, CCAS has enjoyed the support of numerous individuals, corporations, and government sources. Moreover, it has benefited from the leadership of a number of directors, many of whom have been eminent in their fields of scholarship, including:
- David E. Long (1975)
- Michael C. Hudson (1976-1982; 1984-1989, 2004-2006, 2007-2010)
- Halim I. Barakat (1983)
- Hisham Shirabi (1989-1990)
- Ibrahim Ibrahim (1991)
- Barbara Stowasser (1993-2003, 2006-2007, 2010-2011)
- Osama Abi-Mershed (2011-2017)
- Rochelle Davis (2017-2020)
- Joseph Sassoon (2020 – present)
CCAS has flourished under these directors, adding more tenure-track faculty positions, research opportunities, and scholarships in order to meet growing demands.