The Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA), a nonprofit organization that fosters inclusive dialogue on Middle Eastern studies, announced its relocation to Georgetown University Feb. 21.

The School of Foreign Service Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) will house MESA, which focuses on building scholarly understanding of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan and other Arab countries’ cultures. MESA leaders said the new location will foster greater opportunities for students to engage with experts on the Middle East through events and research opportunities. 

CCAS Director Fida Adely said MESA’s relocation will boost the university’s Middle Eastern studies program for both undergraduates and graduate students.

“There are going to be many opportunities for intellectual exchange and for us to co-host and sponsor events,” Adely told The Hoya. “MESA has also got a very strong undergraduate education committee that really tries to support undergrads interested in the Middle East.”

Adely said MESA’s resources and experts will augment Georgetown’s reputation as a center for academic study of the Middle East.

“It’s the premier professional association for anyone who does Middle East studies, and Georgetown is known as the university that has the most going on in terms of Middle East studies,” Adely said. “Georgetown has a lot of strength when it comes to the Middle East and Islam.”

MESA’s headquarters are typically located at the nation’s best institution for Middle East studies, according to the nonprofit’s executive director, Jeffrey Reger (SFS ’10, GRD ’14, ’18). Prior to its move to Georgetown, MESA had been based at George Washington University since 2020, Adely said. 

Reger said Washington, D.C., is a strong location for MESA thanks to its concentration of experts and graduates in Middle East studies, including from Georgetown’s Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program. 

“Georgetown’s faculty and students are very well represented in our membership, and MESA frequently organizes meetings in Washington, DC for our academic conference,” Reger wrote. “In addition, MESA is expanding its outreach to professionals in Middle East Studies outside of academia, for whom DC is the largest such grouping in the US, and MAAS graduates from CCAS are a key constituency.”

Maddie Fouberg/The Hoya | The Middle East Studies Association of North America’s (MESA) new relocation to Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service’s (SFS) Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) expands Middle East studies at Georgetown through increased interaction with field experts. (Maddie Fouberg)

Reger said MESA will provide CCAS graduate students with access to an abundance of new resources including direct intellectual dialogue on-site with MESA staff.

“We have found that there are mutually beneficial opportunities to being in a central, academic setting — specifically through collaboration with colleagues, whether students or professors, on a regular basis. Georgetown’s faculty and students are very well represented in our membership, and MESA frequently organizes meetings in Washington, DC for our academic conference,” Reger wrote.

Graduate student Asa Breuss-Burgess (GRD ‘25), who is doing a Master’s in Middle East studies within the Arab studies program, said MESA will help him achieve his goal of discussing critical Middle East issues in a productive environment.

“It’s definitely good to be opening up conversations on what are very critical issues and approaching them in a way that can benefit all stakeholders,” Breus-Burgess told The Hoya.

Reger said that MESA’s Annual Meeting, a conference in which members share research and connect through events, is a key component of getting involved in MESA, especially for those seeking a career centered on Middle East studies.

“Interested graduate students should definitely consider joining us at our Annual Meeting, which is also known as the MESA conference, which is held each fall, and regularly in Washington DC. Again, the breadth of Middle East studies represented at our Annual Meeting is unique, and should not be missed, especially if one is considering a career in Middle East studies,” Reger wrote to The Hoya.

Adely said the potential for Georgetown professors and MESA experts to engage in academic discourse will widen with MESA’s move.

“Some of the possibilities we see in that — besides the fact that we think this is important just in terms of our stature, as a place that does Middle East studies and the importance of this institution and our academic lives — is that we have this potential to do events in-person events together,” Adely said.