Northwestern debuts study abroad program on Qatar campus

Olivia Exstrum, Reporter

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Beginning in the fall, Northwestern will offer a semester-long study abroad program for journalism and communication students at its satellite campus in Doha, Qatar.

Everette Dennis, dean of Northwestern University in Qatar, spoke at an information session Wednesday to discuss the Doha Seminar program open to students in the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications and the School of Communication.

“The program is beneficial because it’s in a country that’s growing and evolving in many ways and really recreating itself,” said Dennis, who has been the dean of NU-Q since 2011. “If you want to see a country evolve and develop, (Qatar) is the place to do it.”

The Doha Seminar is open to NU sophomores and juniors in Medill and the School of Communication. In addition to courses in communication, journalism and the liberal arts, selected students will participate in an honors-style seminar on culture and developments in the region, as well as go on a funded, week-long visit to another country in the region at the end of the term.

NU-Q, which opened in 2008, is NU’s first international campus. It boasts students from Qatar and more than 30 other countries. Dennis said Qatar also has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and has a rapidly growing media sector as well, with multiple Al Jazeera networks and daily newspapers.

“We are able to practice quality journalism there,” he said.

However, Dennis acknowledged a lack of transparency sometimes can make it difficult for students to report. He said students have to work hard to uncover information and get behind the scenes.

“You have to learn about the culture, how to approach people and how you interview people,” Dennis said. 

Prof. Craig LaMay, Medill interim associate dean, said the classes he taught at NU-Q were often used as a vehicle to discuss issues regarding race and gender.

Medill Prof. Mei-Ling Hopgood said traveling and learning abroad can be a great opportunity for students to open their minds to the way their own countries work.

“I think studying abroad can be absolutely life-changing and career-changing,” Hopgood said. “You can come back and reflect on how you want to be and what your society wants to be.”

One of the students in attendance at the info session, Medill freshman Morgan Kinney, applied for the upcoming Spring Break trip to NU-Q and is also interested in other opportunities in Qatar.

“I think there’s a lot to be learned from studying journalism in such a foreign environment,” he said. “The way you realize what you believe in is by exploring what other people believe in.”

Five spaces are available for the fall program. All classes will be taught in English, and fluency in Arabic is not needed in order to apply.

“It’s a chance to see something that will be radically different five or 10 years from now,” Dennis said. “We could be present for extraordinary change.” 

Twitter: @oliviaexstrum