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The new faculty of the International History programme at GU-Q

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. The new major will join a list of current offerings that includes degrees in International Politics, International Economics and Culture & Politics.

GU-Q’s Dean, Gerd Nonneman, said:

Georgetown’s main campus in Washington DC boasts one of the best international history programmes in the US, 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…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.’

New faculty have joined the university to teach the new major, including four new academics trained in internationally recognized universities, including Harvard, Georgetown University in Washington DC, the University of Toronto and UCLA.

Professor Karine Walther, who both teaches history and is also the faculty chair for International History at GU-Q, said:

We now have an African historian, another Middle East historian, a specialist on Islam in South Asia, and someone whose focus is on China, to list just a few…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.’

GU-Q, also known as the School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q), opened in Qatar in 2005 as a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The university is a branch campus of the Georgetown University Edmund A Walsh School of Foreign Service. Currently, GU-Q offers a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree with the ability to major in one of three fields: International Politics, Culture and Politics, and International Economics. The current academic year has the largest student body to date – a total of 248 students enrolled in GU-Q’s four-year liberal arts undergraduate programme, representing 44 different countries. Professor Walther said:

With such a diverse population, both here on campus, and more broadly in the region, there is a greater focus on how countries have interrelated over a longer period of time…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.’

Beyond the new major presenting the first opportunity for regional university students to pursue this type of degree, GU-Q’s teaching methodology is also an innovation for students of history in the region. Professor Walther said:

Students still need to know a chronology of events, as history has traditionally been taught, but I also talk to 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.’ However, according to Dean Nonneman, 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. He said:

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 remarkable success at medical school, law school, and a range of other graduate programmes.’

The recent growth campaign at GU-Q also includes a brand new Media and Politics Certificate offered in partnership with Northwestern University in Qatar, and more teaching staff to accommodate the increase in student enrollment. Fifteen new academics slated to join GU-Q  includes faculty members from across several disciplines, including economics, applied linguistics, English, literature and culture, world literature, and Arabic language .