A recent visit to Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) acknowledged the departure of Dean Ahmad Dallal, to assume the presidency of the American University of Cairo, and provided a chance to renew ties between the provost office and GU-Q faculty and staff. Given the COVID pandemic, there had been no visit from the provost office since December, 2019.
Since the last visit, Metropolitan Doha has continued its transformation. The subway is now operational. New highways with elaborate exchanges offer improved transportation. The site of Education City, once seeming rather remote from the central core, now seems closer. New buildings are opened; others are being built. The large investment of the country in museums and cultural institutions has paid dividends. Sports facilities, some in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, dot the landscape.
Education City consists of individual programs of Carnegie Mellon University (biological sciences, business administration, computer science and information systems), Cornell University (medicine), HEC-Paris (Executive Business), Georgetown University (International Relations), Northwestern University (Journalism), Texas A&M University (Engineering), and Virginia Commonwealth University (Design and Arts).
The mission of Education City is to provide world-class higher education programs sited in Qatar, for the benefit both of the Qatari population and others. Its work stems from a vision to build a knowledge-based economy for Qatar and provide world-class higher education for the larger region.
Georgetown operations opened in 2005 as the School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q), offering the BSFS degree using the same curriculum as the DC campus. In the last five years, the Georgetown campus has expanded to offer new minors, new concentrations, and executive education through the McDonough School of Business, and the School of Continuing Studies. In addition, GU-Q has developed an innovative curriculum in Heritage Arabic for students who are quite comfortable in colloquial Arabic but need more training in the formal Arabic that is prevalent in business and diplomacy. To reflect the new activities, SFS-Q has evolved to GU-Q.
The number of faculty and students has increased. In fall 2021, there are more undergraduate students at GU-Q than ever before. New scholarship resources have increased the diversity of students from around the world. Indeed, the student body is much more diverse in country of origin than that in DC.
The productivity of the faculty at GU-Q has increased along with their numbers. GU-Q recently celebrated the publication of over 100 books by the community since 2005. Its Center for International and Regional Studies offers research support to faculty for cutting edge projects concerning both regional and global issues.
For some years the Qatar Foundation, which funds Education City, has encouraged the sharing of courses and programs across the branch campuses, under the rubric of the “multiversity.” Georgetown and Northwestern formed one of the first collaborative programs, offering a joint minor in Media and Politics.
Georgetown’s work in Qatar serves its mission of working at the frontiers of higher education, attempting to educate the next generation in countries that we cannot easily serve from our Washington, DC, location. Indeed, Education City is one of the most important experiments in higher education globally and our colleagues working in Doha have delivered the best of Georgetown in novel ways. It was good to be back in Doha.