Georgetown to go beyond foreign service classes
21 Feb 2016 - 17:00
Qatari students benefit from Heritage Learners Arabic language courses which are specifically designed for those of Arab background.
By Fazeena Saleem
Stepping into the second decade in Qatar, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q), is set to move beyond offering a School of Foreign Service by leveraging the resources at its main campus in Washington DC.
SFS-Q will make use of some of the expertise from the wide offering of top-quality programs in business, law, medicine and more from the main campus.
“Going forward depending on agreements and interests of our partners in Qatar, some or all of this expertise can be put in the service of building human capacity for new industries in Qatar and the region,” Dr Gerd Nonneman, Dean at SFS-Q told Doha Today.
At present SFS-Q is the institutional academic partner to the Josoor Institute, focusing on the sports and events management industry. Also the university is being asked by the Ministry of Interior’s Permanent Emergency Committee to develop a training program in Emergency and Disaster Management for government and public sector employees.
“Looking well beyond 2016, we continue to explore the possibility of introducing Masters level courses or programs. Some of this may be offered jointly or independently in coordination with HBKU and our partner institutions. The possibilities are endless; it is now a matter of identifying the most meaningful projects for Qatar and creating a sustainable model to move forward,” said Dr Nonneman.
SFS-Q’s Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (BSFS) is a multidisciplinary undergraduate degree includes courses in international affairs, government, economics, philosophy, theology, history, literature, language training, and geography. But many of which are tailored specifically to reflect issues and perspectives of the region and Qatar, are considered as the curriculum’s strength.
In particular, Qatari students benefit from Heritage Learners Arabic language courses which are specifically designed for those of Arab background. Tailoring the pedagogy to this group allows these classes to equip Qataris and others from the region with professional Modern Standard Arabic skills that are vital for careers in the public sector, as well as to preserve the Arabic language heritage of a generation of young people increasingly living in a world where English is the common language.
The campus’s faculty includes some of the world’s top scholars.
“They (faculty) help prepare our students to tackle global issues by challenging them to think critically as they observe the world and to find rational and practical solutions for the problems they identify. Furthermore, our path-breaking research objectives include an emphasis on student research, where our professors mentor students in funded research on relevant topics. This strengthens the students’ skills as well as contributing to the future of a sustainable and bustling research hub in Qatar,” said Dr Nonneman.
“But what really makes a Georgetown education unique from other “liberal arts” schools is the emphasis on hands-on learning that takes students out of the classroom and sends them all over the world to learn about conflict and reconciliation exactly where those dramatic historical events took place,” he added.
Currently the tuition fee stands at about $48,000, identical to the fees paid in Washington. Qatari students are eligible for their fees and costs being fully funded by scholarships from the Ministry of Education. Non-Qatari students either arrange their own payment, or they can apply for financial aid from Qatar Foundation, which is awarded on the basis of need.
Some of SFS-Q’s graduates serving in advanced positions in the government of Qatar at present. These include H H Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani, the Deputy Emir, and
H E Sheikh Mohamed bin Hamad Al Thani, Managing Director of the Supreme Committee of Delivery & Legacy, (for the 2022 World Cup.
SFS-Q’s 269 alumni are now present and active across the private and public sector, including in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and some foreign diplomatic services, but also in sectors as diverse as energy, law, consulting, sport, media and education. About 40 of them have made a contribution at embassies, ministries, or other Qatari government entities. Also others working in the private sector, helping to add value and diversify the economy, and in organisations such as Teach for Qatar, helping to shape the next generation.
“Our students come to Georgetown with the ambition to make the world a better place – whether that be through diplomacy or, for most, a whole range of other roles in society and the economy. We help them build the skills and acquire the tools to be at their most effective in making those contributions,” said Dr Nonneman.
“Armed with a Georgetown degree in one of four majors — International History, International Economics, International Politics, and Culture and Politics — our alumni can take on a wide range of tasks: all of them are trained across several disciplines and must show excellent numeracy and literacy skills, as well as strong analytical and critical thinking. They have an understanding of how economies and societies work and they bring to this an ability to grasp the global as well as the local and regional context,” he added.
Last year, the campus celebrated the first decade of Georgetown University in Qatar.
According to Dr Nonneman, there’s so much that all members of SFS-Q community do every day to make an impact and supports Qatar’s national development, that it is hard to single things out.
“But I must say that our students and alumni, are one of our greatest accomplishments, and one that just continues to give. Our alumni – including through Georgetown’s new GCC alumni club – are providing valuable career development and networking opportunities, and they are already having an impact in diplomacy as well as across private, public and non-government sectors. And our students are leading the way in community service and research, producing insightful papers and winning awards along the way,” he said.
However, Dr Nonneman emphasis the trail SFS-Q is blazing in the field of Arabic language pedagogy for Arab learners. The campus has already put the new pedagogy into practice for its own Arab students and are opening it up to all of Education City. A set of web-based tools are also being developed which will carry the impact of this initiative to wider society.
“Thanks to the vision of H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, we have been able to do the original research in this field that was non-existent before, and that was necessary to begin developing the required pedagogy and teaching materials for this crucial group of learners: this is really about the youth of Qatar and the region,” said Dr Nonneman.
The research achievements of SFS-Q’s faculty is essentially considerable. Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) has awarded SFS-Q researchers more than $8m in grant since 2007. That includes awards in the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP), the Conference and Workshop Sponsorship Fund, and the Post-Doctoral Researcher Award competition.
SFS-Q library and the new community classes are also great contributions made by the campus to the Qatari society.
“I also take pride from the impact we’ve been having in the broader community. Our resources, generously supported through Qatar Foundation, allow us to provide educational opportunities to adult learners, by holding Community Classes in a range of interesting topics,” said Dr Nonneman.
“Also we have purposely made our library, comprising over 90,000 physical items and more than a 1,000,000 digital books, journals and periodicals, into a resource for the community at large: it has been great to see how many businessmen, students, diplomats, colleagues from other universities, and members of ministries, have been using this resource,” he added.