From civil war in Syria to the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, almost no part of the world is more topical than the Middle East. Ryan Dye, PhD, coordinator of a new Middle East Institute being developed at St. Ambrose University, said such news from the region underscores his belief that "in order to understand the world in a global context, you must understand the Middle East. That is what makes this new institute so exciting and important."
The institute is the first of its kind devoted to this area of the world in the state of Iowa, said Dye. "This fits St. Ambrose. It fits with our history of engagement in peace and justice issues. And the university has demonstrated an ability to thoughtfully examine tough, complex issues through the annual Project Series program," added Dye.
Initial funding for the Institute has been provided by the Adler-Schermer Foundation.
The institute has already scheduled its first major event-a lecture by former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach-for April 10. "Congressman Leach's visit to campus is emblematic of the institute's mission to provide non-partisan public forums for the university and the community to engage thoughtfully about key issues impacting the Middle East," said Dye.
A member of the House Committee on International Relations for much of his 30-year political career, Leach will speak about America's relationships with the Middle East. Dye said the address by Leach, who currently serves as chair in public affairs at the University of Iowa, will kick off an ambitious agenda for the institute.
Among the major initiatives planned, the Middle East Institute will:
The institute plans to work in collaboration with local organizations such as the World Affairs Council, the Jewish Federation, and the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities, said Dye.