Dr. Ari Ariel is the Director of the International Studies Program and an Associate Professor of Instruction in International Studies and History. Read on to learn more about his personal and academic journey.
Director of the International Studies Program since 2021, Dr. Ari Ariel comes to the University of Iowa with a fascinating mix of interests and areas of expertise. Luckily, International Studies has always offered a way to tie his many pursuits together.
Dr. Ariel earned his B.A. in International Studies from City College of New York. He tried to spend as much time traveling as possible, studying abroad in Israel and Yemen. He returned to Israel to complete his master’s degree in Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University in 2001. From there, he pursued his Ph.D. in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University, earning that degree in 2009.
In addition to teaching jobs at Bryn Mawr College, NYU, and Boston University, Dr. Ariel also worked in the food and wine industry, including cooking and food media. International Studies offered a way to connect his varied occupations and pursuits, encompassing his interests in culinary arts, history, languages, ethnicity and nationalism, and even his own family history.
“All those kept leading back to academia,” he says, noting that his position as Director of International Studies allows him to study topics he is passionate about as well as help students discover and research their own passions. Currently, Dr. Ariel is exploring ideas around cultural borrowing and appropriation: “I’m really interested in how cultural practices change, collide, and mix when people from different parts of the world interact,” he says.
Dr. Ariel sees International Studies as a way to broaden students’ horizons—not only by studying abroad, but by exploring the global connections that exist in any career field. “At this point in history, we are all really international. We all have global links and contacts whether we realize that or not,” says Dr. Ariel. An International Studies major or minor combines well with any program of study and offers students a way to gain global perspectives on their areas of interest. “It will be enlightening and will prepare you for the rest of your lives and careers in our global world.”