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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Getting Involved

There is no shortage of ways to delve deeply into academic life beyond the classroom. Involvement in CMES, the University, and the field of Middle Eastern studies enriches the student experience, provides valuable opportunities for the application of studies, strengthens networks with scholars in the field, and boosts a student’s marketability in post-graduation pursuits. Below are some of the ways students can get involved.

Middle Eastern Studies Graduate Student Association

The Middle Eastern Studies Graduate Student Association (MESGSA) is a graduate student-run organization with members from CMES, as well as Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian Studies. The organization is supported in many of its efforts by CMES, but also operates independently of faculty and staff direction. The MESGSA is both a social and academic organization, undertaking the planning of activities such as barbecue treks around Central Texas and career fairs. The MESGSA is led by an elected student president who seeks input from all student members on events, missions, and goals.

Graduate Student Assembly

The Graduate Student Assembly (GSA) is the governance body at UT for graduate student interests. The organization tackles issues such as graduate student housing and insurance, academic employee salaries, and course offerings. Every degree program may elect a representative for yearlong appointments to the assembly.


CMES has a very active outreach program that provides ample opportunities for involvement. The outreach director works with other Title VI programs on campus (South Asia Institute, Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies, and the Institute for Latin American Studies) to provide resources to K-12 educators, non-profit organizations, businesses, and the general public to cultivate a greater understanding of global cultures. Students should contact the outreach director to identify volunteer opportunities.

Conferences & Publications

The graduate coordinator, graduate advisor, and faculty members will frequently notify students of upcoming conferences and calls for papers. Students should take every opportunity to submit their work for presentation or publication. Conference presentations and publications are a crucial component of the academic experience and help students create curricula vitae demonstrative of superior academic achievement. Students need not limit themselves to conferences and journals of MES-focused organizations. Having a paper accepted by organizations in literature, communication, linguistics, history, and a variety of other fields indicates broad applicability of a student’s work. A key element to look for in selecting conferences and journals is peer review, as such programs and publications carry greater weight in academia. Faculty can also advise students on the reputability of a particular conference or journal.

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