The University of Missouri will now offer a minor on Middle East studies.
The Columbia Missourian reports that the new program starting this fall will allow students to choose 15 credit hours from 11 disciplines, including art, archaeology, history, literature and religious studies.
Nathan Hofer, who holds a doctorate in religious studies with a primary emphasis on Judaism and a secondary emphasis on Islam, directs the new minor.
Hofer says he wants students to have a framework to understand that the Middle East is more diverse, religiously and politically, than most people understand.
According to assistant professor of history Victor McFarland, students often do not get the chance to learn about the region beyond what they read in news headlines.