Mustang News | File

Political science sophomore Milo Wolter is working to expand the current course catalog, to soon include courses on studies of West Asian and North African Studies and also an Arabic language course. 

“I think there’s a large misunderstanding of the region and its peoples, and that is something I’m really trying to highlight, especially with the cultural discussion of all of these like the Kurdish, Turkish, Persian, Arab,” Wolter said. “All of these cultures in the region and highlighting its diversity, both ethnically and religion as well.” 

According to the course description proposal, West Asian and North African Studies would include the “studies of the Arab, Persian, Israeli Jewish, Turkish, and Kurdish civilizations and their respective cultures and histories.”

The course would also incorporate a discussion of religious plurality in West Asia and North Africa, particularly Sunni and Shia Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and West Asia and North Africa diaspora in the United States. 

Wolter has also proposed a new language course called Elementary Arabic since Cal Poly doesn’t currently offer a native African language course. The course would be a class for beginner’s Arabic and also cover Arab culture. 

Kenneth Habib, ethnomusicology professor and Director of Arab Music Ensemble, agreed to teach this course if approved. Habib has taught multiple levels of Arabic language courses at Santa Barbara City College and Cuesta College. 

If approved, the course would allow students, including those who are pursuing a Black studies minor, to have an opportunity to study a dominant African language as well as a global language.

“Arabic classes would serve the Black studies minor well because it’s the national language across North American and plays important roles in cultures in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Habib said. 

Currently, Wolter is working alongside ethnic studies professor Alpin Razi to get the course proposals implemented for administration consideration. 

According to Wolter, the soonest year that these courses will be included in the course catalog is expected to be 2026, due to the semester conversion.

“I think it’s an important topic, given European colonialism in the region and then the war on terror,” Wolter said. “It’s been a long history of Western nations intervening in the region and not really understanding its background — its history, its culture, its politics. I think you see that in the U.S. now, with Islamophobia and racism.”