Paradise Named Director of King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies

Tom Paradise
Photo by Russell Cothren, University Relations

Tom Paradise

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Tom Paradise, professor of geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, has been appointed director of the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas. 

Paradise's experience in the region along with his background in regional geography, geology, cartography and architecture have brought national and international attention and made him a prominent expert in the field.

As director, Paradise intends to bring a new approach to the undergraduate Middle East Studies Program, integrating the Center's conventional focus on regional history and politics with natural and cultural resource management, regional geography, vernacular architecture and Islamic art to create one of the largest regional and national Middle East educational and resource centers in North America.

"We are poised to become a unique Middle East Center and Program, which focuses on the interface of the environment, culture, religion, resources and politics," Paradise said.  "No other Middle East Center in North America has embodied such a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to regional studies and understanding."

First endowed in the 1990s, the King Fahd Center works to develop curriculum and programming that advance the Fulbright legacy of peace through education by promoting understanding, knowledge and awareness of the region's cultures, landscapes, resources, politics, societies and geography. 

The center has hosted dignitaries and experts from around the globe and is a national, regional and local resource for the study and understanding of these pivotal regions.

Paradise joined the U of A in 2000 as faculty in the Department of Geosciences.  His understanding of regional environmental issues, resource management and culture has led him to work with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for more than 25 years across the Middle East and North Africa.  

His work on the ruined classical city of Petra in southern Jordan, now one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, was recently featured as a part of the NOVA series Building the Wonders of the World. His research on the architecture, urban morphology and cultural resource management of the region and city has been published in three books, and more than 50 peer-review papers, reports and book chapters. He has also published more than 3,000 maps related to his work in Petra, the Levant, the Mediterranean and the United States.

His work has been supported by many national and international agencies including National Science Foundation, United States Agency for International Development, the United States Information Agency and United States Information Service, Petra National Trust, Near and Middle East Research and Training Program, U.S. State Department, Fulbright Program's Council for International Exchange of Scholars and Jordanian Department of Antiquities.

About the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies: The King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies is an academic and research unit in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. The interdisciplinary and interdepartmental area studies center offers diverse cultural, intellectual and educational opportunities for the campus community and promotes research and teaching in interdisciplinary Middle East studies.  The Center offers an undergraduate major in Middle East Studies and supports graduate studies in related departments.


Tom Paradise, director
King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies

Darinda Sharp, director of communications
J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences


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