Certificate in Middle East studies announced

Certificate is first step to full Middle East studies minor

Students from other Education City universities eligible for certificate

In a move to further equip future communication and journalism professionals with historical, political, and cultural knowledge of the region, Northwestern University in Qatar has begun offering students a certificate in Middle East studies.

Several seniors are expected to graduate with the certificate this May, having already completed the requirements that include four graded courses. Seniors must submit an application by April 21st to ensure the certificate is placed in their transcripts before graduation.

“This certificate will ensure that our students are better positioned to meet the demands of a job market that increasingly relies on specialized knowledge of the region,” commented NU-Q Dean and CEO Everette Dennis. “The specialty will not only serve NU-Q students and others in Education City, but will also have appeal on the home campus which will be sending exchange students to Doha.”

The announcement of the certificate follows a consensus conference at which some 60 students, staff, and faculty from both Doha and Evanston considered prospects for a Middle East studies minor in a discussion on the role of history, contemporary affairs, religion, politics and the role of the media.

The conferees had agreed on the vital importance of a minor and had worked to define what it would include, outlining MENA resources at NU-Q and in Education City as well as others in museums and other Qatari institutions.

“Today with this certificate we have taken a significant step closer to establishing a minor at NU-Q,” said Dennis, adding that students enrolled at other universities would be able to obtain the certificate by fulfilling the same requirements.

NU-Q currently offers over 20 qualifying courses such as Arab Television Industries, Globalization of Youth Cultures in the Middle East and Survey of Egyptian Cinema. Qualifying offerings at other campuses at Education City include Arabic Culture and Literature at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, classes on Gulf society, Gulf politics and modern Arabic poetry at Georgetown University in Qatar, and classes on Islamic and Middle Eastern art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.

“NU-Q provides a unique education not least because of its position among neighboring campuses with whom we can collaborate to form a solid and incomparable selection of course offerings,” said Sandra L. Richards, liberal arts director at NU-Q. “The Middle East is a complex region, and our aim is to give our students as many tools as possible to analyze events across the Arab world as well as their relationships to the rest of the world.”

Richards played an important role in the development of the certificate, alongside a committee of professors with expertise in the region, including: Khaled Hroub, professor of liberal arts in residence; Joe Khalil, associate professor of communication in residence; Ibrahim Abusharif, assistant professor of journalism in residence; and Zachary Wright, assistant professor of liberal arts/history and religion in residence.

Students expressed their enthusiasm for the prospect of placing their knowledge of journalism and communication within a greater context of knowledge of the region. “This will definitely be interesting, and beneficial to us,” said communication freshman Maha Al-Jefairi. “It will help us to gain a deeper understanding of the Middle East, and to think about how we can use that knowledge in our work.”