2022 Spring

Middle East Center Newsletter


Greetings! As the 2021-22 academic year comes to a close, we can look back on another exciting year despite the persisting challenges of the pandemic – now endemic. We, at the Middle East Center, have now become “experts” at navigating online platforms and making our content and events available to people in many parts of the world. Having made the switch last year, this past year allowed us to enjoy presentations from scholars near and far. Our lecture series and outreach events reached over 1,000 people in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

We are also happy to report that the Jackson School of International Studies successfully recruited a new tenure-track faculty member, Dr. Danya Al-Saleh, whose research and teaching focus on the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf region. Dr. Al-Saleh is a Geographer, whose expertise on environmental studies, especially fossil fuels, climate change, and inequality, will add a whole host of new courses to the JSIS/International Studies program and will be of particular interest to our students focusing on Middle East studies. Read the full article about Dr. Al-Saleh below.

In addition, the JSIS is working hard to support our (and other National Resources Centers (NRC)). Recently, they announced the hire of a new administrator of FLAS fellowships. Meet Dr. Rita Bashaw below. We welcome her to the UW!

As a federally-funded National Resource Center, the MEC considers it an important goal to reach members of our public. As with last year, individuals isolated at home as a result of the pandemic have increasingly turned to the MEC for programming and events about contemporary, real life issues. For instance, our November 2021 roundtable on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as it relates to Afghan-MENA relations, was a major event this past fall. And, coming this July, we, along with other UW NRCs will host the Community College Master Teacher Institute (CCMTI) at the University of Washington. You can learn more about this year’s program on “Globalization at a Crossroads: Integration and Fragmentation in the Global System” by checking out the story below.

As always, we are grateful for such an engaged community. Please consider supporting the Middle East Center  as we work to educate UW students and the residents of Washington State.

We wish you health and safety in these trying times.

Arzoo Osanloo
Director, Middle East Center
Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies


The Center Welcomes Danya Al-Saleh, the Jackson School’s First Faculty Position in Environmental Justice and an Expert on the Middle East

By Monique Thormann | UW Jackson School

Danya Al-Saleh

Danya Al-Saleh

Danya Al-Saleh, a feminist geographer with expertise in Environmental Studies and Middle East Studies from the University of California Los Angeles, will join the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington as Assistant Professor of International Studies fall quarter 2022.

“This was a highly competitive search with over 400 applications for the job, and we are delighted that Dr. Al-Saleh will be joining us,” said Jackson School Director Leela Fernandes. “Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues that we face. This position centers the need to think about questions of inequality as we deal with the impact of climate change.”

It is the school’s first faculty position dedicated entirely to the field of environmental justice. The purpose is to underscore both the urgency of the climate crisis and how environmental harms are distributed and impact communities in uneven ways both within and across nation-states.

Al-Saleh is currently the American Council of Learned Societies Emerging Voices Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Humanities and Department of Geography at UCLA. Her latest research sits at the intersection of Gulf Studies, political economy, energy geographies, and critical university studies. Her work demonstrates the connections among energy transition, engineering, the role of gender and how U.S. universities are transnational actors in environmental injustice through their ties to fossil fuels.

“I am excited to be joining a public university like UW, and to collaborate with such remarkable and dedicated colleagues across the university,” said Al-Saleh. “My work is quite interdisciplinary, so the Jackson School is an ideal intellectual community to develop my research and teaching on the interconnected crises of climate change, U.S. imperialism, and energy transition. I am really looking forward to thinking and learning with students in the classroom.”

Al-Saleh will teach courses on environmental justice at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She will also contribute to the School’s U.S. in the World program, a series of course and public events that focuses on U.S. foreign policy impacts. The role will allow the Jackson School to develop connections with the College of the Environment and Geography as well as many other units that focus on the Middle East and environmental issues.

Her first course, ‘The University and Climate Justice” (JSIS 478D/578C), to be held in autumn quarter, will examine the role of universities in upholding the injustices of an extractive fossil fuel-based economy and in producing environmental expertise and labor that facilitated slavery, Indigenous dispossession, and imperialism abroad.

Al-Saleh earned a doctoral degree in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2021 and a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2014 at CUNY Graduate Center. She has studied Arabic in Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, and does her research in Arabic and English.

Dr. Rita Bashaw: New FLAS Administrator at the University of Washington

Rita Bashaw

The Middle East Center is pleased to introduce Dr. Rita Bashaw, who has just been hired as the University of Washington’s new FLAS Administrator. Dr. Bashaw will be working closely with the Middle East Center’s faculty, staff, and students as she oversees the Center’s FLAS program (meet our Summer 2022 FLAS cohort below).

Prior to joining University of Washington in May, Dr. Bashaw served as Graduate Programs Advisor in the Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University and as Director of the Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations at Pomona College in Claremont, California. She holds a B.A. in German and History from UC Berkeley, M.A. in German and European Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

In the interview below, Dr. Bashaw describes her journey living in a multicultural world and administering higher education programs.

Your education and career show a strong interest in foreign languages and cultures. How did you first become interested in the field?

I guess I would say I grew up living between different languages and cultures. I grew up in the Imperial Valley in southeastern California and attended high school in Calexico, which straddles the border to Mexicali, Mexico. Almost all my classmates spoke Spanish as their primary language; many of them and some teachers, too, crossed the border daily in order to attend my small Catholic high school. At the same time, my mother was German and didn’t speak English well initially. So, it was one language on the playground, another in class, and something else at home. I remember being told at one point in elementary school that I needed special lessons to correct my English pronunciation(!) I thought all this was normal and it wasn’t until I went away to college that I discovered how special that experience was.

In your opinion, why is learning foreign languages and understanding foreign cultures important?

There are so many ways to answer this question! I guess I would say it’s important because it teaches you that “things can be different.” What I mean by that is, things don’t have to be the way they are right now or at least the way you perceive them to be right now. Somewhere else, there’s someone approaching things quite differently. Some people might be frightened by that possibility because it might seem to imply a loss of centeredness. But if you can be open to it and face it head-on, I find it can be liberating and endlessly creative.

You’ve done quite a lot of program administration in your career. What aspects of program management do you find most rewarding?

Some of us in higher education have more student-facing roles than others, but we rely on each other to get things done and thus work together toward a larger, common goal of promoting student success. In my work, I connect with faculty, students, university administrators and other staff, representatives from external agencies—sometimes all those constituencies within one day—and yet it’s all about that common goal. I love it; that’s fun for me! I need to be proficient in different conversations—to speak those different “languages”—in order to anticipate the needs of those different groups and do my job well. And, in the end, if I can manage that, I’ll have done my part to support the potential for higher education to be transformative in our students’ lives.

Twelfth Annual Community College Master Teacher Institute Will Focus on the Theme of Globalization at a Crossroads

The Middle East Center, in collaboration with the other National Resource Centers at the Jackson School, the Northwest International Education Association, and the Global Business Center at the University of Washington, will host the twelfth annual Community College Master Teacher Institute (CCMTI) on July 21-22, 2022 on the University of Washington campus.  The Institute’s theme this year is: “Globalization at a Crossroads: Integration and Fragmentation in the Global System.”

The 2022 CCMTI will feature a variety of academic and practitioner experts from a range of disciplinary and regional perspectives. Participants will learn and share strategies for how to incorporate this timely topic into existing curricula, plus develop new classroom activities.  Specifically related to the Middle East will be a presentation by Middle East Center, Affiliate Professor Frederick Lorenz titled “The Russia-Syria Connection: How Will the War in Ukraine Affect the Situation in the Middle East?”

The Institute is open to community college instructors who teach courses related to global and regional studies. Space in the event is limited, and so prospective participants must submit an application for consideration. Apply here. Instructors accepted to participate in the CCMTI will receive a small honorarium. Attendees from outside the Seattle metro area are eligible for a travel subsidy that will support their stay in UW single-room housing for the days of the event.


Undergraduate Awardees

Anaëlle Enders (Arabic)
Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies & College of Education

Anaëlle Enders

Anaëlle Enders is taking a double major in the Jackson School and the College of Education. She is particularly interested in international relations between the Middle East pertaining to immigration and education. She aims to pursue a career working in the social impact organization sector. Anaëlle will be studying at the American Arabic Language Institute in Meknes, Morocco this summer.

Liv Fowler (Modern Hebrew)
Linguistics and Jewish Studies, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

Liv Fowler

Liv Fowler, a US Navy veteran, is majoring in Linguistics and Jewish Studies. After completing her undergraduate program, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in applied linguistics, focusing especially on the study of second language acquisition. She hopes to use research in the field to enhance teaching and learning methods to help improve literacy rates and strengthen international security. Liv will be studying at the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem this summer.

Samuel Verble (Modern Hebrew)

Sam Verble

Samuel Verble is majoring in Linguistics. He plans on entering a graduate program in Mental Health Counseling after receiving his B.A. His goal is to use his academic foundation in Linguistics and Modern Hebrew to help others navigate their own unique worlds through the lens of language. Samuel will be studying at Tel Aviv University in Israel this summer.

Graduate Awardees

Danielle Moreau (Arabic)
Information Science

Danielle Moreau

Danielle Moreau is pursuing her M.A. in Library and Information Science. Danielle is particularly interested in libraries and information management in the Arab world. She aims to work for the Library of Congress at locations in the Arab world gathering and providing access to valuable research materials in the Library’s collection. Danielle will be studying at the Arabic Language Institute in Fes, Morocco this summer.

Jack Robinson (Arabic)
Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

Jack Robinson

Jack Robinson is pursuing his M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. His research focus is on religious nationalism looking at the intersections of religion, nationalism, state and human security, and political systems. Jack will be studying at Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan this summer.


Forrest Martin (Modern Hebrew)
Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

Forrest Martin is pursuing his M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization focusing on the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near East, especially with respect to cosmology, philology, divination, and animal studies. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in the same field. This summer he will be studying at the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he will be strengthening his mastery of Modern Hebrew in order to make use of the rich secondary source material in Modern Hebrew that his field offers.


6/5/2022: “A New Era of the United States and the Middle East,” 3:00 p.m., PACCAR Hall, Room 192 (Shansby Auditorium). Vali Nasr, Majid Khadduri Professor of International Affairs and Middle East Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. 2022 Farhat J. Ziadeh Distinguished Lecture in Arab and Islamic Studies.