Photo of a group of students studying outside of LWH.

With the introduction of the Summer Institute in Kurdish Language and Culture, Northeastern Illinois University and the Zahra Institute adopt the mission of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL) to enhance cross-cultural communication among citizens of the United States and citizens of the world. The summer institute is designed to enrich Northeastern’s course offerings in the humanities, with a focus on Kurdish language and culture.  It comprises three components:

  • Three courses: Beginning Kurdish (KURD 101), Intermediate Kurdish (KURD 201), and Kurdish Culture (WLC 200K)   
  • A teacher training program
  • An International conference

Kurdish is the language of the approximately 25 million Kurds who live within the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, and in European and American diasporas. The Kurdish people historically live at the intersection of cultures and civilizations in frequent conflict with each other, throughout the Middle East. The study of Kurdish language and culture is critical for scholarship on the region. Yet, no American institution of higher education offers Kurdish language and culture courses on an ongoing basis, while the demand for Kurdish studies is on the rise.

In May 2018, Northeastern’s partner, Zahra Institute, hosted a four-day Summer School of Kurdish Studies, with lectures on Kurdish language and linguistics. The event attracted scholars from as far away as Turkey and Japan—many of whom communicated a need for more classes in Kurdish language and culture in Chicago. Partnering to develop Kurdish language and culture classes for the Summer Institute puts Northeastern students in direct contact with scholars from all over the world. Kurdish programming at Northeastern Illinois University increases the inclusivity of our community, while ensuring greater opportunity for students to network globally during and beyond the Institute.  

For more information about the Summer Institute in Kurdish Language and Culture, please contact Jeanine Ntihirageza at (773) 442-5873 or or Denise Cloonan at (773) 442-4741 or