Muscat: In a move to provide an opportunity for regional students to pursue a degree in a specialised subject, Qatar Education City's Georgetown University Qatar (GU-Q) officially announced the launch of a brand new major, International History, as a part of a major expansion initiative.
This is the first time that a degree in International History is being offered in the region.
The new major will join a list of current offerings that include degrees in International Politics, International Economics and Culture and Politics.
"Georgetown's main campus in Washington D.C. boasts one of the best international history programmes in the United States, and now, we are delighted to bring that academic opportunity to this region, where it will be the first time such a degree is offered," said GU-Q's Dean Gerd Nonneman.
"This new major strengthens our standing as a student-focused research university through our world class scholarship, our regional and global orientation, and our commitment to hands-on teaching that is inspired by our research."
In order to teach the new major, new faculty have joined the university, including four academics trained in internationally recognised universities, namely Harvard, Georgetown University in Washington D.C., the University of Toronto and UCLA.
"We now have a historian of African origin, one from the Middle East, a specialist on Islam in South Asia, and someone whose focus is on China, to list just a few," said Professor Karine Walther, who teaches history and is also the faculty chair for International History at GU-Q.
"All of these are developing areas that our students in Doha want to know more about, and with this major, we are making a tremendous contribution to our students' understanding of the politics, economics, and histories of these regions."
The current academic year has the largest student body to date, comprising a total of 248 students enrolled in GU-Q's four-year liberal arts undergraduate programme, representing 44 different countries.
Georgetown University has students from Oman enrolled in different bachelor degrees it offers.
"With such a diverse population, both here on the campus, and more broadly in the region, there is a greater focus on how countries have interrelated over a longer period of time," said Professor Walther. "Specifically, there is greater interest in understanding how Doha is bringing Qatar into this globalised world and learning about the various influences that have shaped this country."
Apart from the new major, GU-Q's teaching methodology is also an innovation for students of history in the region. "Students still need to know a chronology of events, as history has traditionally been taught, but I also talk in my class about narratives; about the idea that historians are not objective tellers of a single truth. History is always being re-written, especially in times of flux." By teaching students to rethink history, says Professor Walther, they are "training to be able to one day write their own historical narratives, and not have them written by others."
But Dean Nonneman is quick to point out that a career as a historian, or even a thorough understanding of how our societies came to be where they are, are not the only things the new degree prepares students for.
"History is one of those majors that trains people incredibly well in analytical skills and in coping with large amounts of complex information. Our international history majors in DC tend to be some of the most successful people on the career front because they are so well rounded and skilled: they do very well on the job market. International history graduates also go on to achieve remarkable success at medical school, law school, and a range of other graduate programmes."
Nonneman also said that GU-Q is already doing research collaboration in the region.
He informed that GCC-based researchers are often involved in projects organised by the Centre 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 among others," he said.
The recent growth campaign at GU-Q also includes a brand new media and politics certificate offered in partnership with the Northwestern University in Qatar, and more teaching staff to accommodate the increased student enrolment. The 15 new academics slated to join GU-Q include faculty members from across several disciplines, including economics, applied linguistics, English, literature and culture, world literature, and Arabic language.
Founded in 1789, Georgetown University is a student-centred international research university offering highly ranked undergraduate, graduate and professional programmes preparing the next generation of global citizens to lead and make a positive impact in the world. The outstanding students, faculty, alumni and professionals of Georgetown are dedicated to real-world applications of research, scholarship, faith and service.
Founded in 1919, the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) is a premier school of international affairs. At the campuses in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and Doha, Qatar, SFS provides a rigorous education combining theory and practice while instilling glorious values among men and women in the service of others. At GU-Q, students have the opportunity to major in culture and politics, international history, international economics, and international politics with the same curriculum as that available to students in Washington.