Dr. Robert Olson, professor (emeritus) of Middle East History and Politics at the University of Kentucky, has been the recipient of a Festschift Kurdish Issues: Essays in Honor of Robert W. Olson on his 75th birthday. Fifteen of the top scholars from the Middle East, Europe and the United States specializing in Kurdish Studies contributed 13 essays in his honor. Professor Olson was awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award in Recognition of Exceptional Contributions to the Field of Kurdish Studies” by the Kurdish Studies Association at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, an international organization of 3,000 members, held in Denver, Colorado, on Nov. 22, 2015. Olson is one of the few scholars of his generation to make a fundamental contribution to a new area of study in his major fields of research.
Olson, along with his colleague Michael Gunter of Tennessee Technical University, are the principal co-founders of Kurdish Studies in the United States. Olson and Gunter are the authors of 21 authored books, 10 edited books, 270 scholarly articles and 395 book reviews. Of these Olson authored 10 books, edited four, published 106 scholarly articles, 60 essays and 250 book reviews. He also wrote 130 op-eds and opinion pieces as a journalist for Today’s Zaman, an English language newspapers published in Istanbul, Turkey and widely read in Europe and throughout the Middle East until it was was closed by an increasingly authoritarian Turkish government in May 2016. Since February 2016 he has been a contributing columnist for LobLog.com a blog devoted to foreign policy issues specializing in Middle East politics edited by Jim Lobe and John Feffer, two of the U.S’ most noted journalists on international relations and foreign policy issues.
Dr. Olson was also a University Research Professor at the University of Kentucky in 1995-1996; University Professor (Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kiwan Memorial Prize) 1999-2000; and Distinguished Professor the College e of Arts and Sciences, 2000-2001.