NU-Q prepares students for global engagement through wide array of programming

Northwestern University in Qatar students visit Dubai Media City

In an effort to underscore global understanding, students at Northwestern University in Qatar take part in a wide array of planned activities ranging from study abroad to research trips, and exposure to developing countries through service learning.

In 2015-16, these experiences included a Global Media Experience program in Dubai and New York City, screenings of student work at the Cannes Film Festival, assistance to the underprivileged in Vietnam as well as inter-campus study in communication and journalism on NU’s home campus in Evanston, Illinois among others. In academic credit-bearing travel and student affairs arranged service programs, over the course of an academic year, there are more than 80 opportunities for NU-Q students to participate in an international experience.

“NU-Q students are being prepared to live and work anywhere in the world by virtue of a veritable menu of global experience options that give them exposure to other people, cultures and traditions,” said Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO. “This is not only valuable but essential in an increasingly competitive global environment. Qatar is positioning itself as a global player, which means that for our students, global exposure is critical. At NU-Q, globalization begins with our diverse student body from some 31 countries plus prowess in multiple languages and a desire to truly master the knowledge that will help them navigate change.”

Northwestern’s Journalism Residency program is a 10-week internship that all journalism majors are required to complete. Students are placed with leading media and communications institutions in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, where they learn how to deliver high-quality content under deadline pressure, as well as hone their news judgment, sharpen their fact-checking and research skills, build confidence in their capabilities, and explore new career paths not previously considered.

Among the companies who have hosted NU-Q students are National Geographic TV, VICE News, Financial Times, and Fleishman-Hillard and Grayling public relations firms.

“NU-Q makes the residency a requirement because it enables students to learn professional skills and life lessons that can only be developed in a demanding, fast-paced business environment,” said Mary Dedinsky, director of the journalism program. 

This year, as part of the residency program, students worked for prestigious outlets in New York, London, and Doha. Chantelle D’Mello worked at the Huffington Post in New York where she tackled a wide range of subjects. “It tests your ability to shift tone. It tests your ability to talk to different audiences because someone who is reading about sea bunnies might not necessarily read a Trump piece,” D’Mello said.

“NU-Q students are being prepared to live and work anywhere in the world by virtue of a veritable menu of global experience options that give them exposure to other people, cultures and traditions. This is not only valuable but essential in an increasingly competitive global environment."
-Everette E. Dennis, dean and CEO, Northwestern University in Qatar

Another NU-Q student participating in the Journalism Residency program was Aamer Hassan, an avid sports fan, particularly of tennis and European football. But, as an intern at USA Today, he received a crash course in the U.S. sports scene. “USA Today Sports is such great place to be,” Hassan said. “One of the things I learned here is how to communicate… communicating with students is different from talking to people who have experience in the field. Basically, you sit down and talk with them, share ideas, you agree or disagree, but you come up with the solution.” 

While developing their journalism and strategic communication skills through the residency program is a requirement for all journalism majors, the university also offers students the opportunity to meet and network with global media leaders through its Global Media Experience program.

Each year NU-Q takes students on a career exploration trip to two international media hubs—Dubai and New York City—to provide them with a first-hand look at how the theoretical concepts that they learn in the classroom come to life at highly successful media organizations. This year, the trip visited ABC Eyewitness News, Made in NY Media Center, Vice, and OSN, BPG Public Relations, and Dubai Media City. 

“As future leaders in the media industry and international businesses, it is important for students to have a strong understanding of the global media industry and how rapidly changes are taking place. In addition, this gives our students an opportunity to meet with leaders in the media and business worlds to discuss their careers and receive advice on how to achieve career success,” said Greg Bergida, director of student affairs and organizer of the trip. 

“As media students, we found the topics…brought up were very relevant to our industry. The organizations we visited brought a new perspective to the table. It has encouraged us to look into upcoming trends in the media and be critical of them,” said Ammar Younas, a junior in the communication program.

In addition to providing students with the academic and professional resources needed for professional success, the university also encourages all of its students to be engaged in service. This year NU-Q students participated in a service-learning trip to Vietnam, which gave them the experience of a new culture, as well as offering them the opportunity to make a positive impact in the global community through service. In Vietnam, students prepared and served meals at a local soup kitchen and provided tutoring in conversational English to university students.

One of the students noted that the service learning trips are “deeply humbling, and very important for university life. Even though our experience was short term, it is transformational in thinking about long-term goals and plans for the rest of our lives. That kind of awareness is key to living a more service-oriented life,” said Alya Harthy.

“Northwestern’s goal,” Dennis said, “is to develop a well-rounded, globally aware citizen who is prepared to be engaged with their community as well as prepared to be a leader in media, business, and government as a professional communications executive.”