The name SERMEISS (pronounced SER-meese) is an acronym for the Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Seminar, a professional society for faculty from various fields whose common connection is the study or teaching of some aspect of the Middle East or Muslim World. The organization was founded in 1977 to provide scholars in the southeastern United States with an opportunity to meet regularly with colleagues to share research findings and teaching concerns. SERMEISS is an affiliated organization of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA).

The SERMEISS twelve-state region includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Persons from outside the region are welcomed as associate members.


SERMEISS sponsors two meetings annually, fall and spring. Programs are designed to provide for interaction among teachers interested in the Middle East and Islam at three levels–trained specialists in Middle East and Islamic Studies, non-specialists who include the region in their college teaching, and secondary school teachers.

Some sessions allow specialists to present their latest research; other sessions focus on new teaching strategies and materials. An evening session at each meeting is devoted to viewing and critiquing newly-released films on the Middle East and Islam. A highlight of each meeting is a current events round-table discussion, usually chaired by a modern historian or political scientist recently returned from the area.

The atmosphere of SERMEISS meetings is that of a weekend academic retreat. There are no concurrent sessions scheduled, ensuring an audience of 40-50 or more for each presentation and facilitating continued discussion throughout the weekend. Members view the meetings as the ideal “testing ground” for research in progress and welcome input and suggestions from their colleagues.


From its inception, SERMEISS has been active in outreach. Members constitute an invaluable resource pool for secondary school teachers and the public throughout the southeastern states, and both full and associate members have conducted workshops and made themselves available as consultants in public and private schools and to the press.

SERMEISS periodically sponsors summer institutes for public school teachers, study trips abroad, and a variety of workshops for teachers at all levels.

As part of its outreach mission, SERMEISS provides some travel assistance to meetings for pre-collegiate members, as funds permit.


SERMEISS maintains a library of films, DVD’s, videotapes, and other teaching aids housed at the Marist School in Atlanta, Georgia. SERMEISS member Louisa Moffitt,, manages the collection. For ordering information and a listing of films, see the outreach center page.


Full membership is available to college and university faculty, scholars affiliated with research centers, and graduate students and pre-collegiate educators with at least three graduate hours in Middle East or Islamic Studies. Dues are $25.00 per calendar year.

Associate membership is available to other pre-collegiate educators, invited individuals with a professional interest in the Middle East, and members from outside the region. Dues are $20.00 per calendar year.

See the membership page for complete information.


Institutional member dues are $200.00 per calendar year for schools with over 5,000 students, and $100 per calendar year for schools with under 5,000 students.


To join or request information, please contact Dianne Chidester at

c/o Dianne Chidester 
Greenville Technical College 
PO Box 5616, MS 1042 
Greenville, SC 29606