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New ‘Center of Centers’ opens in Durham Hall


Exterior shot of a brick and glass building surrounded by trees and grass

Durham Hall — known to many as Language and Lit — underwent an extensive, multi-phase renovation, including replacing the building's "skin" with brick veneer and windows to allow more natural light inside; updating classrooms with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology; adding office space for multiple centers; and remodeling the restrooms. Photo by Penny Walker/ASU News

August 23, 2021

This fall, five centers of regional studies at Arizona State University unveiled a shared workspace located in the newly renovated Durham Hall on the Tempe campus. These centers include the Center for Asian Research, the Chinese Language Flagship Center, the Council for Arabic and Islamic Studies, the Humanities Lab Administrative Offices and the Melikian Center. Although these organizations study seemingly disparate regions, together they share a commitment to advancing global research and preparing students to be citizens of the wider world.

“The Center of Centers is a terrific opportunity for cross-division and interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Pardis Mahdavi, dean of social sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This will be a unique meeting ground to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems.”

Together, these organizations form a nerve center of social science and humanities scholarship for not only faculty and scholars but also students, the wider Phoenix community and even the world. For instance, the Humanities Lab has offered courses on human land use in the Amazon and Arizona and energy justice in the Navajo Nation, while the Melikian Center is currently hosting visiting scholars from Armenia and Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, both the Melikian Center’s summer Critical Languages Institute and the Chinese Flagship Center are dedicated to language teaching. The institute offers summer courses in 13 languages to both ASU and non-ASU students, while the Chinese Flagship Center trains ASU undergraduates to reach a professional level of Chinese proficiency.

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