Middle East and South Asia Studies

Degree Type
Department Interdisciplinary
Academic Division The College
Offerings With Language Emphasis minor Without Language minor
The Middle East and South Asia, though wide in extent and culturally diverse, contain multiple cradles of civilization, and have been linked since antiquity by cultural, religious and economic networks, both on land (the Silk Road) and sea (the Indian Ocean).

Middle East and South Asia

Students in the MESA program gain broad-based, historically grounded knowledge about the societies and cultures of the Middle East and South Asia, including their linkages and area-wide patterns, acquiring the skills to analyze and interpret social, religious, political and cultural processes or developments relevant to the area.

Students may choose to minor in Middle East and South Asia Studies Or MESA Studies with Language Emphasis, both of which require seven courses (at least 21 credits). Language emphasis requires three additional 3-4 credit courses earned by completing through term five in one MESA-relevant language. The first two terms of language study are not applicable to the minor. Both Arabic and Sanskrit instruction are available at W&L; other MESA-relevant languages, such as Hebrew, Hindi or Tibetan, may be studied elsewhere and considered by the program director for credit toward the minor with language emphasis.


Students are encouraged to take advantage of study abroad or language learning opportunities in the Middle East and South Asia. Washington and Lee’s relationships with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and Middlebury Schools Abroad facilitate student experiences in Jordan and India. The Critical Language Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, offers fully-funded summer language institutes for U.S. students studying Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, Urdu, Persian, Punjabi, Bangla or Turkish. Students may also consider programs with the Council on International Education Exchange or the School for International Training, which offer opportunities in Jordan, India, Indonesia, Morocco or Nepal. Scholarships are available for some of these experiences.

The Association for Middle East Interests, a campus student group, is dedicated to informing the student body and Rockbridge-area community about the Middle East.

Other co-curricular and extracurricular activities include movie nights, calligraphy lessons, cooking lessons, dance lessons, spoken word nights, guest speakers and the WLUArabic Lunch.

Seth Cantey

Program Head


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