Undergraduate Student Learning InitiativeThe Near Eastern Studies Department offers three majors, each with several emphases, that concentrate in the languages, literatures, and civilizations of the ancient, medieval, and modern Near East. Because of the breadth of fields and disciplines, our goals for undergraduate learning are likewise diverse.
The majors include:
- Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
(with emphases in: Arabic, Hebrew, Egyptology, and Persian)
- Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology (with emphases in: Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology and Egyptian Art and Archaeology)
- Near Eastern Civilizations
(with emphases in: Ancient Civilizations and Islamic Civilizations)
1. Program-level Goals:
For language majors:
• proficiency in speaking, listening, and writing in the designated language
• knowledge of the major literary genres and corpora relevant to the designated language
• knowledge of the main historical and cultural periods and geographies relevant to the designated language
For non-language majors:
• the ability to analyze architecture, art, and archaeological sites
• knowledge of the main historical and cultural periods, sites, monuments and geographies relevant to the chosen field
For all majors:
• familiarity with the entire area of the Near/Middle East from ancient to modern times
• awareness of the importance of the Near/Middle East in today’s global society
• the ability to formulate a well-organized argument, supported by evidence
• the ability to critically read and analyze scholarship in the field
• the ability to write and to communicate orally
2. Relationship between Program Goals and Core Curriculum
• All majors are required to take NES 10 Introduction to the Near East, which surveys the Near and Middle East from ancient through modern times.
• language skills are gained in successive stages of language instruction from elementary to intermediate to advanced
• art, architecture and civilizations majors are introduced to their chosen field in NES 15 Introduction to Near Eastern Art and Archaeology and NES 18 Introduction to Ancient Egypt
• writing, critical reading, and scholarly argumentation are introduced in L&S Reading and Composition courses in either ancient Near Eastern texts (R1A and R1B) or modern Middle Eastern texts (R2A and R2B) NES Department USLI
Continuing Skills Courses:
• in the languages there are a diversity of advanced literature courses offered in the designated language.
• in the art, architecture and civilizations majors there are comparable advanced upper division courses offered in a range of specialized subjects that include both thematic and area-studies formats.
• undergraduate seminars offer students the opportunity to work closely with instructors and to examine specialized topics in greater depth.
• many of our advanced majors take graduate seminars (with the consent of instructors)
• many of our students study abroad in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and Israel, and participate in language and culture programs, as well as archaeological excavations.
• requires minimum GPA
• consists of 1 semester of 199 Independent Study and 1 semester of H195 Honors Thesis, to be taken over the course of the last two semesters at Berkeley and in close consultation with a chosen thesis adviser.
3. Communication of Goals to Majors and Potential Majors
Our major programs are posted in detail on the departmental website at Undergraduate Study. Hard copies of the major programs and department catalogue are available in the main office of the department. The Undergraduate Advisers also play a key role in guiding prospective and declared majors through the different programs.
4. Evaluation of Attainment of Program Goals
• Evaluation takes place throughout a student’s progress through the major.
• Language skills are assessed continuously through written and oral quizzes and exams.
• Lecture courses require research and analytical papers and/or oral presentations, in addition to exams.
• Larger lecture courses include discussion sections for group discussions.
• Honors theses are read and evaluated by two members of the department’s instructional staff and filed in the department after completion.
5. What we need to make the implementation of these goals fully successful
• greater staff support at the Undergraduate Assistant level (we currently have only a .50% assistant).
• more technical support from the University to maintain a fully dynamic and current departmental web page.
• more consistent and reliable funding for our lower division language instruction, which is funded almost entirely out of the TAS budget; preferably, this funding would be allocated separately from the funding needed for other teaching needs (such as GSIs for discussion sections of large lecture courses like NES 10, NES 15, and NES 18).
Step by Step: an undergraduate resource to enrich academic experience and to prepare for graduate school: http://stepbystep.berkeley.edu/.