Evanston students could study abroad in Qatar

Nathalie Tadena

Familiar faces will head faculty at Northwestern’s campus in Qatar.

Though no official announcement has been made, two senior associate deans said they will be leading programs on the Middle Eastern campus. Medill Senior Associate Dean Richard Roth will hold the same title at the Qatari journalism program. School of Communication Senior Associate Dean Mimi White is the anticipated senior associate dean for the communication program.

NU announced in December that Associate Provost John Margolis would serve as the dean and chief executive officer.

The first class of about 40 freshmen students at the Doha, Qatar, campus will begin classes fall 2008. The school will only offer journalism and communication programs in Qatar’s Education City.

NU began planning to open a campus in Education City, which plays host to five other branches from U.S. universities, in spring 2007. The contract was finalized in November. The schools will initially enroll mostly Middle Eastern students, but students from the Evanston campus will eventually be able to study abroad at the Qatar branch.

The communication and journalism programs offered at the Qatar campus will be derived from the curricula offered in Evanston, with modifications to accommodate a semester system, the deans said Monday. Degrees and admissions requirements will be identical to those on the Evanston campus.

“It’s important for people to understand that we are offering NU curriculum with NU faculty and NU caliber resources,” White said. “We are aware of cultural differences, and we’re also aware that we are there to teach the same sorts of things NU students learn about media in the world.”

The Qatari government is supportive of a free press partly as a result of the increasing accessibility of information through technology, Roth said, adding that it will be the first time for many Middle Eastern students to attend a co-educational institution and to learn about the media.

“To be a journalist in the Middle East takes real courage – it takes courage to be a journalist in Illinois or anywhere,” Roth said. “It’s a chance to help prepare men and women become journalists, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Doha is also the home city for Middle Eastern television network Al-Jazeera. Both the communication and journalism programs will touch on topics in international media.

“We want to use this as much as an opportunity for us as an institution and as individual faculty members to learn about the very important world of Middle Eastern media,” White said.

Understanding and adapting to a different culture will also be a big challenge.

To prepare for life in Qatar, Roth said he is reading books about Middle Eastern culture.

“I hope they’re right, but I’ll learn it as I go,” he said.

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