UCF Appoints First Kurdish Political Studies Endowed Chair in US

GunesMuratTezcur-Kurdish-Chair-Resized 2Kurdish Political Studies at the University of Central Florida has a new leader, Güneş Murat Tezcür, Ph.D., the inaugural holder of the Jalal Talabany Kurdish Political Studies Endowed Chair.

The Chair is the first of its kind in the United States. It was initiated by a $1 million donation led by Dr. Najmaldin Karim, a neurosurgeon, who currently serves as Governor of Kirkuk Governorate, Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq. Dr. Karim is also the president of the Washington Kurdish Institute, a non-profit center dedicated to research and education for Kurdish people worldwide.

Dr. Tezcür studies political violence, identity and movements. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in various scholarly journals, such as the American Political Science Review, Foreign Policy Analysis, International Studies Perspectives, Journal of Peace Research, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Law and Society Review, Nationalities Papers, Party Politics, Politics & Gender and Political Research Quarterly. He is also the author of Muslim Reformers in Iran and Turkey: The Paradox of Moderation (University of Texas Press, 2010). Dr. Tezcür’s research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. In addition to English, he conducts his research in Kurdish, Persian and Turkish. He also serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Middle East Studies.

In contemplating the role of the Chair, Dr. Tezcür said, “I am honored to have been appointed. Kurdish aspirations for greater rights and power have the potential to remake the Middle East – with global implications. I am very much looking forward to this unique opportunity to advance public interest in and scholarly studies of Kurdish politics in the United States and beyond.”

The Chair is designed to help UCF expand its offerings related to Kurdish issues. Specifically, the mission of the Chair includes teaching, research and scholarly pursuits centering on Kurdish Political Studies, and further developing recognized excellence in that field. It will also facilitate fellowships, distinguished visitors, public forums, courses, workshops and other offerings that objectively present and discuss policies and conditions affecting the security, peace and democratic governance of the Kurdish people, including episodes of mass violence such as the Anfal genocide.

Dr. Kerstin Hamann, who heads the Political Science Department and co-chairs the affiliated Kurdish Political Studies Program, said, “We are very excited to house the Jalal Talabany Kurdish Political Studies Endowed Chair. The Chair establishes the department as a national and international center for the analysis of Kurdish politics. The Chair also makes a significant contribution to our Ph.D. program in Security Studies, given the substantial role Kurdish issues have in Middle Eastern and international politics. We are pleased, as well, to welcome Dr. Tezcür, an outstanding scholar of Kurdish political issues who has published widely in the top Political Science journals.”

John C. Bersia, Special Assistant to the President for Global Perspectives and co-chair of the Kurdish Political Studies Program, said, “The timing of this appointment is critical. News headlines underscore on a daily basis how the Kurds are playing an increasingly important role in the affairs of many countries, especially Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.”

“The Chair – the first in the College of Sciences – is a welcome addition,” said Michael Johnson, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Sciences.  He added, “It complements the growing international focus of the Department of Political Science, the College and the university, and will encourage the scholarly examination of a crucially significant subject that has received insufficient attention.”


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