If you want to delve into Kurdish history, language, politics, and culture, well, there are very few institutions of higher education in the world that offer programmes of any kind. This is unfortunate. Becoming a student of Kurdistan is, to say the least, very difficult.
Offerings range from beginning language courses to full-fledged graduate programmes.
I’ll start with programs in the United States. Indiana University in Bloomington, IN has on their course listings page of their website “Introductory Kurdish I”. It is listed for Fall 2008 but no follow up course for Spring 2009.
While Indiana University claims on their website that “the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish will be taught for the first time in North America at Indiana University”, it seems that the University of Arizona in Tucson has also started a Kurmanji programme this semester. While IU’s programme is run through their Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, UA’s program is operated through its Critical Language Program and not connected to their Department of Near Eastern Studies or Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
American University (in DC) has several scholars-in-residence who participate in their Global Kurdish Studies program although there are no courses per se that deal specifically with the Kurds or Kurdish issues. And no language instruction.
The University of Central Florida has a Kurdish Political Studies Initiative. Their website says this Initiative ‘strives to develop knowledge and understanding about the Kurds and Kurdistan, is supported by the endowed chair in Kurdish Political Studies established by Dr. Najmaldin Karim and the Global Connections Foundation. The initiative is a cooperative undertaking of UCF’s Global Perspectives Office and Department of Political Science in the College of Sciences (where the endowed chair is housed), and the Global Connections Foundation. Established in 2008, it sponsors or co-sponsors public discussions involving high-profile speakers, conferences and other meetings; supports scholarship and research; and works with partners internationally to broaden knowledge and understanding about the Kurds and Kurdistan. The program examines the Kurds and Kurdistan in an interdisciplinary manner, but its primary focus is on politics.’
Moving on to Europe… there is the Institut Kurde de Paris, which offers language courses in both Kurmanji and Sorani.
The Institute of Iranian Studies at Göttingen in Germany offers Kurdish related courses.
Jagiellonian University (JU) in Krakow, Poland offers Kurdish studies courses in conjunction with the JU Institute of Oriental Philology and Kurdish Center for Information and Documentation. While I could not find a specific webpage on the JU site, I did learn that near the university is a fine restaurant (U Ziyad) run by a Kurd named Ziyad. http://www.uziyada.krakow.pl/. I believe he is the same Ziyad who runs the KCfID.
Kurdish language at SOAS in London:
The Grand Dame of Kurdish Studies must be, without a doubt, the programme at Exeter University (Exeter, UK) through its Centre for Kurdish Studies (CKS). Exeter offers an MA in Kurdish Studies, a PhD in Kurdish Studies, courses in Kurmanji and Sorani, and much more. Exeter is the only British university to have developed a strong research focus in the field of Kurdish Studies. CKS was founded in 2006 and the MA in Kurdish Studies started only one year ago. In April 2009 CKS will host the first annual Kurdish Studies conference, The Kurds and Kurdistan: History, Politics, Culture.
Or, there’s Kurdistan.