Two leading experts on learning and teaching excellence will conduct workshops during Northwestern University in Qatar’s (NU-Q) annual orientation and planning conference for faculty and staff from 17 to 20 August 2014.

The week-long programme will also welcome four new full-time faculty members and six new staff. Drs. Gregory Light and Susanna Calkins, respectively director and associate director of the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching at Northwestern’s home campus in the US will conduct three workshops on student learning and course design. The two will emphasise critical assessment of existing teaching and courses and suggest ways to benchmark improvement. They join both internal and external speakers who will take on topics ranging from understanding NU-Q’s students to navigating the local community and culture as well as the laws and customs of Qatar.

NU-Q’s dean and CEO, Dr Everette E Dennis, said:

In effect our faculty and staff go back to school to help us chart the year ahead and to focus on our instructional mission as well as research and outreach, something that requires collaboration and mutual support…the new faculty members join an already distinguished faculty and will greatly strengthen our offerings for students.’

Northwestern’s provost, Dr Daniel Linzer will address the gathering via video conference with a discussion of the university’s overall context and changes in the offing.

New faculty members including renowned global media expert John Downing, media law scholar Amy Sanders, communication strategy professor Ilhem Allagui, film scholar Sabine El Chamaa will be introduced and welcomed, while anthropologist Sami Hermez will join the faculty in January.

New staffers include library director Beth Clausen, senior network engineer Nadeem Lughmani, strategic risk analyst Lea Bowman, network engineer Will Froning and special assistant Demetrious Elias.

The week begins with sessions led by the Dean on ‘Making Connections with Impact’, which charts NU-Q’s strategic outlook and plans for the year. Other presentations include ‘Fostering an Inclusive Environment’, presented by chief operating officer Kathryn Symank and one on the school’s communication challenge developed by Paul Reilly, director of strategic media, marketing and communication.

The week-long programme provides a chance for reflection, renewal and change and to chart the school’s development in its 7th year of operation. An update and preview on the new Northwestern building, now moving toward completion in Education City, will be led by planning executive director Stephen Franklin with a discussion presented by Pamela Erskine-Loftus, director of the NU-Q gallery—on the  media museum scheduled to open with the new building in 2015.

Other external speakers include Patrick Forbes of Forbes Associates and Susan Bastress of Squire Patton Boggs.

Major attention will be given to the school’s academic curriculum in sessions with the Dean and Associate Dean Jeremy Cohen along with programme directors Mary Dedinsky (journalism), Scott Curtis (communication) and Sandra Richards (liberal arts). Associate Dean Klaus Schoenbach and Research Administrator Elizabeth Lance will inventory the signature institutional research programme — and faculty research initiatives. Other speakers and panelists include Gregory Bergida (student affairs), Leon Braswell (admissions), Patricia Collins (health and wellness), Emily Wilson (community relations), Laura Hockenstad (health and safety), and Beth Clausen (library).