US to keep funding Duke-UNC Middle East studies program

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Betsy DeVos, 11th and current United States Secretary of Education. (Photo: Michael Vadon / CC BY 2.0)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education says it plans to continue funding a Middle East studies program at the University of North Carolina and Duke University that it had accused of advancing “ideological priorities.”

The Washington Post reports the Thursday announcement comes weeks after the department ordered the Duke-UNC consortium to change its offerings or risk losing a $235,000 federal grant.

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The grant is one of many awarded through the National Resource Center program, which supports language and culture initiatives that prepare students for diplomatic and national security careers.

The department said the consortium overly emphasized understanding positive aspects of Islam, in comparison to other religions. The school defended the program against the claims, which some said amounted to ideological harassment.