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LETTER: University ought to offer Arabic as major

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, prides itself on being one of the most diverse academic institutions and claims to be revolutionary throughout its rich history. These are few of many reasons that Rutgers University needs to offer a major in Arabic language and literature. 

A major in Arabic language and literature will provide students the ability to fully explore the richness and diversity of Arabic, such as its poetry, various dialects, its cultural and linguistic histories that are not yet afforded at the University. Students in business, sciences, technology, political science and other fields who establish a major in Arabic language and literature can greatly benefit their academic career and enhance their scope of communication in a globalized world with growing challenges that require understanding and knowing Arabic extensively. Likewise, knowing and understanding Arabic requires not only three years or six courses of Arabic language instruction, as currently offered by the Department of African, Middle Eastern, South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) at the University, but the ability to understand classical Arabic and its philology to fully grasp the language and its applications in various majors offered at our University. The Arabic language is exceptional due to its richness and diversity that cannot be covered in three years of instruction. Poetry, classic literature, modern literature and its dialects are some of the reasons that Arabic language can be considered unique and remarkable.

Currently, AMESALL gives the option for interested students to apply for an “Individualized Arabic Major” and that is a good start in recognizing the academic needs of students, but a recognized major in Arabic language and literature will provide the adequate academic needs of students and the University. This new major will ensure that linguistic and cultural understandings are enough for the professional and academic interests of students that truly represent the diversity that Rutgers stands for.

Mazhar Syed earned his B.A. in psychology and Middle Eastern studies from Rutgers in 2014 and his M.A. in political science in 2016.


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