Qatar Foundation (QF), together with the higher education institutes based within Education City, are helping inspire curiosity, spark creativity, and stimulate critical thinking – the building blocks of lifelong learning – through a wide range of engaging and diverse community classes.
People want to learn, explained Dr Cynthia J Hebsgaard, Senior Assistant Dean and Director of Executive and Professional Education at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), a QF partner university. She said they also want to share knowledge with the community.
The community classes at GU-Q are a great way to engage with the public. These courses make people feel welcome to the university like they’re part of the organisation. For us, this outreach is very important.’
Since its launch in 2015, these community classes have grown in popularity, with nearly 125 people signed up for the current edition that started in October, bringing the total number of participants to 913. Running twice a year – Fall and Spring – the classes last for six weeks and are offered in both English and Arabic.
The programme offers a wide variety of subjects and classes, ranging from life coaching and career development to web design and literature. Dr Hebsgaard said that many of their topics are relevant to the Gulf region.
There are expatriates in the community who might want to know something about Middle Eastern politics or Turkish literature, topics they would not typically learn back home.’
Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), another member of QF, launched their community classes in 2016, and, similar to GU-Q, has seen a steady increase in participants. HBKU Student Affairs Community Service Supervisor Abdulla Al Emadi said their classes are becoming very popular – approximately 80% of attendees are female, and 70% of attendees are Qatari.
Offering both practical and theoretical classes, the programme supports public learning and community engagement through courses specialising in leadership, co-active coaching, entrepreneurship, and public speaking.
We are trying to support the community by offering a wide range of topics that are designed to meet the individual needs of the learners while aiding their professional development. Ultimately, we want HBKU to become a go-to destination for those trying to pursue lifelong learning opportunities.’
The Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII), part of HBKU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, also offers courses in seven languages, including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Open to the wider community – for adults of all ages and abilities – the classes are designed to promote and support language learning.
Such opportunities to discover new skills and take already-held talents to a new level are also available at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), another QF partner university.
Undergraduate student Salma Awad, who is studying painting and printmaking at VCUarts Qatar, said she took the courses because she didn’t know what she wanted to study at university. Prior to joining the academic institute, she took four community classes at the university, including observational drawing, watercolour, basic graphic design, and a portfolio development class.
The VCUarts Qatar classes are for everyone – for all ages and abilities. They teach you that anyone can draw; whether you think you can or can’t, you will make art. The teachers help you to develop your own style. I think it’s always good to explore different areas to develop your interests.’
VCUarts Qatar was the first university in Education City to offer community classes in 2009. The programme, designed to develop and support self-directed lifelong learners and creative innovators is offered quarterly, with classes running in Fall, Spring, Late Spring, and Summer. Open to all, the programme regularly attracts up to 1,000 participants each year.
For more information about the community classes on offer in Education City, visit qf.org.qa.