Visions of excellence

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Gerd Nonneman,Georgetown Univercity Qatar
Gerd Nonneman, Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q) is a key player in the Qatari education sector, teaching excellence in the liberal arts and international affairs. Inside Investor wanted to know more from Dean Gerd Nonneman.

Q: Where is the majority of your students from and how do you attract them?

A: Actually there is no majority. We have one third Qatari, one third non-Qataris resident in Qatar, and one third international students. Currently, we have 44 nationalities. People are joining us for a range of reasons, one is that they want a first-class education in global affairs, where we are among the top institutions in the world. It is an advantage for Qataris and Gulf students to get such an education right here and not needing to leave the region and their families. Georgetown has a global reputation, we attract people through our website, we go out to schools and engage them, and we occasionally send people around the region. Even though our advertising is limited, we are now getting a huge number of very strong applications from around the world to the extent that we have to decline even good applicants.

Q: What was the reason for Georgetown University to set up a branch here?

A: The initiative came from Qatar Foundation, who wanted a top-notch institution here in Education City which would focus on liberal arts with a specialization in global affairs. But the reason Georgetown committed itself, is that the enterprise fits the Georgetown values of engaging with other cultures, faiths and areas of the globe, just like the Jesuits who established the university, and it is a key part of being a global university. We also saw the seriousness of QF, and found the guarantees of academic autonomy absolutely credible.

Q: What is your approach to research partners and student exchange collaboration?

A: It’s one of our strategic goals to enter collaborations with institutions within Qatar in the first place – starting with Education City – whether for research or student exchange. But we are also going beyond that. We have memorandums of understanding to collaborate with Qatar University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we are going outside Qatar to the Middle East, Asia and beyond for academic collaboration and exchange.

Q: Which projects do you have in Asia?

A: Georgetown as a whole has extensive relations with institutions in China and is exploring further relationships in India, but we have no campuses in either. Our Qatar campus has an on-going triangular scientific collaboration with Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Peking University. Here in Qatar we also have been conducting research projects on water and food security in Asia. We are increasingly exploring options for cooperation in India and will do that also in Southeast Asia and China, in coordination with our main campus in Washington.

Q: What, in particular, are your projects on climate change and food security focusing on?

A: We have been working on the politics and diplomacy of climate change, and on food security in cooperation with the Qatar National Food Security Program . One of our researchers was embedded in the Qatari team for the UN climate negotiations in Doha (COP18) in 2012. We not only want to be a catalyst for global research on these issues but also plug into policymaking.

Q: Whom are you working with in the GCC in social sciences?

A: There are individual collaborations with scholars in the Gulf, and GCC-based scholars are often involved in projects organized by our Center for Regional & International Studies (CIRS). These included projects on migration in the Gulf, the nuclear question in the Middle East, the Political Economy of the Gulf, and the International Relations of the Gulf. We also work with diplomatic institutions and various think tanks in the Gulf and have individual links to universities throughout the region. What we want to develop further are more sustained relationships to large universities in the GCC, for example in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait etc.

Q: Where would you like to see Georgetown University in Qatar in five years?

A: I see us being at the pinnacle of social science teaching and research in the Gulf as well as in the fields of global affairs and international relations. I also see us being a real and recognized contributor to Qatar’s development of a knowledge society. We are growing rapidly, and in three years from now will be at least 80 per cent larger in terms of academic staff, and at least 50 per cent larger in terms of student numbers. For the new academics, we are recruiting in the top-notch institutions all over the world. We are already getting grants from the Qatar National Research Fund as a measure of success, but that will be ramped up. But this pre-eminence will always be in collaboration with others. Five years from now we should also have post-graduate programs in place.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Gerd Nonneman, Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q) is a key player in the Qatari education sector, teaching excellence in the liberal arts and international affairs. Inside Investor wanted to know more from Dean Gerd Nonneman.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Gerd Nonneman,Georgetown Univercity Qatar
Gerd Nonneman, Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q) is a key player in the Qatari education sector, teaching excellence in the liberal arts and international affairs. Inside Investor wanted to know more from Dean Gerd Nonneman.

Q: Where is the majority of your students from and how do you attract them?

A: Actually there is no majority. We have one third Qatari, one third non-Qataris resident in Qatar, and one third international students. Currently, we have 44 nationalities. People are joining us for a range of reasons, one is that they want a first-class education in global affairs, where we are among the top institutions in the world. It is an advantage for Qataris and Gulf students to get such an education right here and not needing to leave the region and their families. Georgetown has a global reputation, we attract people through our website, we go out to schools and engage them, and we occasionally send people around the region. Even though our advertising is limited, we are now getting a huge number of very strong applications from around the world to the extent that we have to decline even good applicants.

Q: What was the reason for Georgetown University to set up a branch here?

A: The initiative came from Qatar Foundation, who wanted a top-notch institution here in Education City which would focus on liberal arts with a specialization in global affairs. But the reason Georgetown committed itself, is that the enterprise fits the Georgetown values of engaging with other cultures, faiths and areas of the globe, just like the Jesuits who established the university, and it is a key part of being a global university. We also saw the seriousness of QF, and found the guarantees of academic autonomy absolutely credible.

Q: What is your approach to research partners and student exchange collaboration?

A: It’s one of our strategic goals to enter collaborations with institutions within Qatar in the first place – starting with Education City – whether for research or student exchange. But we are also going beyond that. We have memorandums of understanding to collaborate with Qatar University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we are going outside Qatar to the Middle East, Asia and beyond for academic collaboration and exchange.

Q: Which projects do you have in Asia?

A: Georgetown as a whole has extensive relations with institutions in China and is exploring further relationships in India, but we have no campuses in either. Our Qatar campus has an on-going triangular scientific collaboration with Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Peking University. Here in Qatar we also have been conducting research projects on water and food security in Asia. We are increasingly exploring options for cooperation in India and will do that also in Southeast Asia and China, in coordination with our main campus in Washington.

Q: What, in particular, are your projects on climate change and food security focusing on?

A: We have been working on the politics and diplomacy of climate change, and on food security in cooperation with the Qatar National Food Security Program . One of our researchers was embedded in the Qatari team for the UN climate negotiations in Doha (COP18) in 2012. We not only want to be a catalyst for global research on these issues but also plug into policymaking.

Q: Whom are you working with in the GCC in social sciences?

A: There are individual collaborations with scholars in the Gulf, and GCC-based scholars are often involved in projects organized by our Center for Regional & International Studies (CIRS). These included projects on migration in the Gulf, the nuclear question in the Middle East, the Political Economy of the Gulf, and the International Relations of the Gulf. We also work with diplomatic institutions and various think tanks in the Gulf and have individual links to universities throughout the region. What we want to develop further are more sustained relationships to large universities in the GCC, for example in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait etc.

Q: Where would you like to see Georgetown University in Qatar in five years?

A: I see us being at the pinnacle of social science teaching and research in the Gulf as well as in the fields of global affairs and international relations. I also see us being a real and recognized contributor to Qatar’s development of a knowledge society. We are growing rapidly, and in three years from now will be at least 80 per cent larger in terms of academic staff, and at least 50 per cent larger in terms of student numbers. For the new academics, we are recruiting in the top-notch institutions all over the world. We are already getting grants from the Qatar National Research Fund as a measure of success, but that will be ramped up. But this pre-eminence will always be in collaboration with others. Five years from now we should also have post-graduate programs in place.

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