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News and Events

Current News and Events

A Conversation Reza Aslan on God: A Human History

Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 at 4 p.m. 

Join us during this discussion as we continue the 20th anniversary celebration of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies.

Reza Aslan is an Iranian-American scholar of religious studies, writer, and television host. He has written four books on religion: No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam; Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization; Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth; and God: A Human History. Aslan has worked in a variety of television productions, including a documentary series exploring world religions on CNN called “Believer,” and served as an executive producer on the HBO drama series “The Leftovers.” Aslan is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the International Qur’anic Studies Association. He is a professor of creative writing at University of California, Riverside and a board member of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

Moderated by Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, director, Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies and professor, Department of Women’s Studies, SDSU.

Watch the video from the 10/26 event


Islamophobia, Racism, and Imperialist Feminism in an Age of Forgetfulness

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 4 p.m.

Join us during this lecture and discussion to kickoff the 20th anniversary of the Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies.

Dr. Nazia Kazi is an anthropologist and author of the book Islamophobia, Race, and Global Politics. At Stockton University, she teaches classes on American racism, empire, and ethnography. She has written for Truth-Out, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Jacobin. She currently lives in Philadelphia and is editing a book on anti-Muslim racism.

Co-sponsored with the Department of Women's Studies

Watch the video from the 9/9 event

Past Events

Book Award

Professor Ahmet Kuru's book, "Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment" has become the co-winner of American Political Science Association's International History and Politics Section Best Book Award.

Watch the book’s video presentation on YouTube.

Announcing the Islamic and Arabic Studies Major

College of Arts & Letters Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies Director Dr. Ahmet Kuru and Undergraduate Advisor Dr. Hisham Foad have been working diligently on a degree program revision for more than two years. Today, their persistence and steadfast commitment has paid off as their work has resulted in a new major degree program -- the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Islamic and Arabic Studies. No other university in this region offers such a major.

For the past decade, a major in Islamic and Arabic Studies was housed within the Social Sciences program at SDSU. After determining that the program could benefit from an update and reimagination, Kuru and Foad set to work to recreate it. Several reviews by the CSU Chancellor’s office allowed opportunities to refine it, and in the end, according to Kuru, “The degree became an elegant and well-defined program with long-lasting relevance to students.”

This truly interdisciplinary degree program promises to allow a growing population of students, interested in Middle Eastern topics, to focus on relevant research and a robust curriculum. The new collectively revised degree program offers a broad range of subjects to include economics, linguistics, women’s studies, history, religion, political science, and culture. Students will discover a cohesive common core that represents both Islamic and Arabic emphases.

Beginning in Fall 2019, students will be awarded a degree in Islamic and Arabic Studies, rather than one in Social Sciences -- further defining a student’s niche area of study. This major enables students to pursue a multitude of career opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. These include work in Non-Governmental Organizations, the public sector including the Foreign Service, and the corporate world. The presence in San Diego County and other urban centers in the nation of large communities from Muslim-majority countries opens opportunities for work in local government and the social service sector. Students who wish to pursue further studies are well-prepared by this major to pursue M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in multiple disciplines connected to Islamic & Arabic Studies, as well as professional degrees such as law and library science.

CIAS offers a broad range of courses related to Islamic and Arabic studies in cooperation with various departments in CAL. The courses include those on Arabic language; history of the Middle East, in particular, and the Muslim world, in general; the relationship between Islam and politics; theological and legal aspects of Islam; and women in Muslim-majority societies.

The latest addition to our curriculum is “POLS 300: Islam and Politics,” which was added to SDSU course catalog last year. The course aims to provide students with a global understanding of Islam and its political implications, by comparing cases from (Central, Southeastern, and South) Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa, and West Africa. Its scope will also be broad. The course includes such important issues as Islamist ideology; Islamic movements; the idea of caliphate; Islam, secularism, and the state; Islam, authoritarianism, and democracy; Islam, violence, and peace; and Muslim minorities in Western countries.

Other Press Coverage:

SDSU to Offer New Major in Islamic and Arabic Studies
(Source: SDSU NewsCenter)

SDSU Offering New Major in Islamic and Arabic Studies
(Source: La Jolla Village News)


New Book Discussion: Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment    

Thursday, September 26, 2019      
7:00 PM-9:00 PM        
Location: Behner & Stiefel Auditorium (Storm Hall West 011)  

We invite all members of SDSU and the San Diego Community to a discussion by Professor Ahmet Kuru for his new book: Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment.

Co-sponsored with the Department of Political Science

Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Citizenship and Populist Challenge

February 28, Thursday, 7.00pm
Behner & Stiefel Auditorium (Storm Hall West 011)

A talk by Dr. Robert W. Hefner
Professor of Anthropology at Boston University
Editor of Shari‘a Law and Modern Muslim Ethics
Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science and Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) fund

Contextualizing Modern Iran

March 19, Tuesday, 7.00pm 
C. Hostler Auditorium (Storm Hall West 012) 

A panel discussion with

  • Prof. Bahar Davary (USD)
  • Prof. Ali Gheissari (USD)
  • Prof. Kevan Harris (UCLA)
  • chaired by Prof. Ranin Kazemi (SDSU)

Co-sponsored by the Department of Economics, Language Acquisition Resource Center, and Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) fund

A film screening of 1948: CREATION AND CATASTROPHE (A documentary about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict)
April 12, Thursday, 7.00pm
Little Theater (LT 161)

Q&A to follow with Producers Andy Trimlett and Dr. Ahlam Muhtaseb

Unsettling the Revolutionary Subject: The Feminist Implications of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011
March 22, Thursday, 2.00pm
Love Library 430/431

A Talk by Dr. Nadine Naber

Co-sponsored with Women’s Studies Department

Central Asia's Golden Age: What Caused it? What Killed It?
February 1, Thursday, 7.00pm
J.K. Behner & C. M. Stiefel Auditorium (Storm Hall West 011)

A Talk by Dr. S. Frederick Starr

Co-sponsored with the Department of Political Science and the Language Acquisition Resource Center

Making the Desert Bloom: Historical Lineages of Dispossession in Palestine
November 16, Thursday, 7.00pm
Arts and Letters (AL 101)

A Talk by Dr. Gary Fields

Professor in the Communication Department, University of California, San Diego The author of Enclosure: Palestinian Landscapes in a Historical Mirror

Rethinking Muslim Ethics: Tensions and Dilemmas
April 20, Thursday, 7.00PM
Storm Hall West (SHW 011), SDSU Campus

A Talk by Dr. Ebrahim Moosa

Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame
The author of Ghazali and the Poetics of Imagination, and What Is a Madrasa?

Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science

Women PeaceMakers Panel
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2-3:30pm in AH (Adams Humanities) 2108.

Women PeaceMakers program documents the stories and best practices of women leaders and grassroots activists who bravely challenge extremism, violence and inequality on the frontlines of conflict around the world.


  • Hamsatu Allamin (Nigeria)
  • Jane Anyango (Kenya)
  • Khurshid Bano (Pakistan)
  • Fatma Mehdi Hassam (Western Sahara)

Cosponsored by Department of Political Science International Security and Conflict Resolution Women’s Studies, Africana Studies, Islamic Studies

Roundtable: The Art of Migration: Challenges and Opportunities
October 20, 2016, 6-8pm Templo Mayor, Student Union 

Featuring keynote presentations by Italian Algerian writer Amara Lakhous and Syrian American artist Kinda Hibrawi.

Respondents: Dr. Norma Bouchard, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters and Dr. Nancy Marlin, Provost Emerita and Professor of Psychology.

The discussion will address the contested issue of migration in Europe, the Mediterranean and the U.S./Mexico Border as well as the current Syrian refugee crisis through the lens of art and activism.

Organizers: Mounah Abdel-Samad (Public Administration and Policy), Clarissa Clò (Italian Studies), Kellie Quinn (Communication)

Sponsors: The Common Experience, The College of Arts and Letters, The Circolo italiano, The School of Public Affairs, SDSU Arts Alive.

Co-sponsors: The Center for Arabic and Islamic Studies, The Department of European Studies, ISCOR, The Italian Studies Program

Keynote Speakers’ bios:

Amara Lakhous is the author of the award-winning novel Clash of Civilization for an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2008) and several other books, including Divorce Islamic Style (2012) and Dispute over a very Italian Piglet (2014). After receiving death threats, he left Algeria for Italy in 1995 where he with immigrants and refugees for several years. He writes in Arabic and Italian and his novels have been translated in many languages.

Kinda Hibrawi is an acclaimed Syrian American artist, creative strategist and program director. She has worked on various art projects with the U.S. State Department, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, UNRWA and UNICEF. She co-founded and helped develop Karam Foundation’s Innovative Education programs, which she jointly ran every six months for displaced Syrian refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border from 2013 until December 2015.

Lessons from the Arab Spring
Thursday, April 28, at 7.00pm
West Commons (WC) 220
With Dr. Tarek Masoud

Tarek Masoud is the Sultan of Oman Associate Professor of International Relations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. His research focuses on the role of religion in the Muslim world's political development. He is the author of Counting Islam: Religion, Class, and Elections in Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science

Mizrahi Political Alternatives to Mainstream Zionism in Early 20th Century Palestine/Land of Israel
Monday, April 25, at 5.00pm
Location: Arts and Letters 101, SDSU Campus
Speaker: Yuval Evri 

Dr. Yuval Evri is a faculty member at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a sociologist and culture researcher who focuses on the intellectual and political history of the Land of Israel/Palestine. Among his interests are the unique dissenting perspective of Israel's Jewish population from Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Co-sponsored by Fred. J. Hansen Institute of World Peace

Islam and the Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century
March 2, Wednesday at 7.00pm
Storm Hall West (SHW) 012

A talk by Dr. John Esposito

Dr. Esposito is Professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies, and the Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, as well as the author or editor of about 45 books and encyclopedias.

His talk will ask questions including:

Why and how has fear of Islam become normalized in popular culture?  

What role have mass/social media and political elections played?

Who are American Muslims?

What are American attitudes towards Islam?

Co-sponsored by College of Arts and Letters, Fred J. Hansen Chair for World Peace, Department of Political Science, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Economics, Language Acquisition Resource Center, and School of Public Affairs

View the pictures from the event on flickr

Refugee Crisis: The Middle East, Europe, and the United States
7.00-8.50PM, Thursday, October 22nd, SHW 012

A Panel Discussion with:

  • Dr. Annika Frieberg
  • Dr. Roberto Hernandez
  • Dr. Michael Provence

Annika Frieberg is an assistant professor of History at SDSU. She studies war and genocide, gender, conflict resolution, media, national, and transnational questions in Central Europe. Roberto Hernandez is an assistant professor of Chicana/o Studies at SDSU. He studies comparative border studies, decolonial theory, social movements, cultural production, violence, urban studies, and relational race/ethnicity studies. Michael Provence is an associate professor of History at UCSD. His research focuses on the colonial and post-colonial Arab world. He lived and studied in several Middle Eastern countries, particularly Syria and Lebanon. 

Co-sponsored by Department of Political Science, Department of Chicana/o Studies, Department of European Studies, and International Security and Conflict Resolution

The Challenges of the U.S. Higher Education Model in a Dynamic, Contentious Middle East
October 27, 7-8.30 PM
Peterson Gym 153
With Peter Dorman

Currently Professor of History and Archaeology at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Dr. Peter Dorman is a humanist and an international leader in the study of the ancient Near East, in particular the field of Egyptology, in which he is a noted historiographer, epigrapher and philologist. He is the author and editor of several major books and many articles on the study of ancient Egypt and is probably best known for his historical work on the reign of Hatshepsut and the Amarna period. 

He completed his undergraduate studies at Amherst (BA, 1970) and his graduate work at the University of Chicago (PhD, 1985). An accomplished academic leader and administrator, before coming to AUB he chaired with great success the distinguished Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Previously, he spent nine years (1988-1997) heading the epigraphic efforts at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt. From 1977 to 1988, he worked in curatorial positions in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

In July 2008, Peter Dorman became the 15th president of AUB and for seven years led the university in a major expansion of its medical center, invigorated interdisciplinary research across the institution, and initiated the university’s most ambitious fundraising campaign. Founded in 1866, AUB is a private, independent, non-sectarian, non-profit institution of higher learning located in Lebanon’s capital city under a charter from the State of New York. AUB bases its educational philosophy, standards, and practices on the American liberal arts model of higher education. A teaching-centered research university, AUB has around 700 instructional faculty, a student body of around 8,000 students, and currently offers more than 120 programs leading to the bachelor's, master's, MD, and PhD degrees.

Co-sponsored by Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs

Avoiding War and Nuclear Armageddon in the Middle East: Iran, Israel, and Regional Unrest
November 17, 7-8.30 PM
Arts and Letters 101
With By Trita Parsi 

Trita Parsi is the 2010 recipient of the $200,000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. He is an award-wining author of two books, Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the US (Yale University Press, 2007) and A Single Roll of the Dice - Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (Yale University Press, 2012). Treacherous Alliance won the Grawemeyer award and Council of Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Award in 2008 (Silver medallion). A Single Roll of the Dice was selected as The Best Book on The Middle East in 2012 by Foreign Affairs. Dr. Parsi is the President of the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization in the US, the National Iranian American Council and has taught at Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University. He currently teaches at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington DC.

Co-sponsored by Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs

Arab America: A Discussion of Gender, Politics, and Activism
7PM Wednesday, February 11th
Storm Hall West 011
Presented by Nadine Naber, University of Illinois-Chicago

Dr. Nadine Naber received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California-Davis in 2002. She is currently Associate Professor in the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and Asian-American Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Prior to this, she co-founded the Arab American Studies program at the University of Michigan. Dr. Naber has written extensively on the experiences of Arab Americans in her book Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics, and Activism (2012) and has co-edited Race and Arab Americans(2008) and Arab and Arab American Feminisms (2010).

A Feminist Perspective on Gaza
7PM, Thursday, October 16th
Hepner Hall 130

Presented by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and Dr. Simona Sharoni. Dr. Abdulhadi is an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies/Race and Resistance Studies and the Senior Scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative, at the College of Ethnic Studies, San Francisco State University. She is a contributor to Jadaliyya and the co-editor of Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence and Belonging.

Dr. Sharoni is Professor of Gender & Women's Study at State University of New York (Plattsburgh). An internationally known feminist scholar, researcher, and activist, she the author of Gender and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Politics of Women's Resistance. Other publications can be found on her website:

US-Iran Relations and the Nuclear Issue
Thursday, September 18th, 7PM- 9PM
West Commons 220
Nader Hashemi, University of Denver

Dr. Hashemi is an Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. He is an expert on the Middle East and Islamic affairs.

Dr. Hashemi is the author of Islam, Secularism, and Liberal Democracy: The Syria Dilemma (with Danny Postel, MIT Press, 2013), Toward a Democratic Theory for Muslim Societies (Oxford University Press, 2012) and The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran's Future (with Danny Postel, Melville House, 2011).

The Prospects for Peace in the Holy Land
November 19, 6-8 PM
Physical Sciences 130

Presented by Dr. William B. Quandt: Dr. Quandt served on the National Security Council for the Nixon and Carter Administrations. He actively participated in the 1978-79 Israel-Egypt Camp David accords. Dr. Quandt was also a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution. He is presently professor emeritus at University of Virginia. Dr. Quandt has authored multiple books, including the landmark diplomatic study, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 1967 (Brookings Institution Press, multiple editions).

Co-sponsored by Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs, ISCOR, and the Olive Tree Initiative

Racial Identity in the Arab American Community
Thursday, October 24th, 7-9pm
West Commons 220 

“What’s in a Name? ‘Arabs’ and Race in the American Diaspora” 

Dr. Sarah Gualtieri, Director of the USC Middle East Studies Program

We are thrilled to have renowned expert Dr. Sarah Gualtieri in town for this special guest lecture. Dr.Gualtieri is professor of History and the director of the Middle East Studies program at USC. She has also recently published the well received book: Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora. This discussion promises to look not only at the history of racial identity in the Arab American community, but also at more recent developments as well as the cultural and political significance of Arab racial identity in the United States. We should have ample time for questions for what promises to be a very interesting discussion. We do hope that you will be able to join us.

A Forum on Syria and Intervention
October 8, 7-9 PM
Hepner Hall 130 


Dr. Michael Provence Department of History, University of California-San Diego (UCSD) "Historical and Contemporary Developments in Syria"

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Marashin Department of History, California State University-San Marcos "Weapons Proliferation in the Middle East"

Dr. Jonathan Graubart Director of ISCOR and Hostler Institute for World Affairs, SDSU "Legal and Normative Assessment of Intervening in Syria"

Co-sponsored by Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs and ISCOR

Understanding the Turmoil in Egypt
Tuesday, September 10th, 7-9pm
Hepner Hall 130

A panel discussion with SDSU professors Farid Abdel-Nour, Hisham Foad, Ahmet Kuru, and Ghada Osman.