Gerd Nonneman, Dean, Georgetown University’s SFS-Q

24 Feb 08:43 AM

Sector : Education Country : Qatar

Diplomatic Credentials


Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Qatar (SFS-Qatar) was established in 2005 at Qatar Foundation's Education City. A branch campus of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., SFS-Qatar offers a four-year Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degree and other liberal arts programs. B'Here met with Gerd Nonneman to discuss new programs, career diplomacy and research.
Gerd Nonneman, Dean of Georgetown University’s SFS-Q and Professor of International Relations & Gulf Studies, holds an M.A. in Middle East Politics and Ph.D in Politics from the University of Exeter and licentiates in Oriental Philology and Development Studies from the University of Ghent, Belgium.


Is the Certificate in Media and Politics with Northwestern University in Qatar, the first collaboration with an Education City institution? 

The joint program was quite an innovation, for Qatar and for Georgetown University in the US. This shows what makes Education City unique. It draws on two top universities’ expertise to give students an enhanced understanding of the role of mass communication in politics and policy making. The program has already drawn a lot of interest and is an excellent complement for careers that bridge the span of media or politics. Students can choose to pursue a certificate in conjunction with their chosen major. The other two certificates we offer are in American Studies and in Arab and Regional Studies. We have been collaborating with Education City institutions including partnering with Texas A&M and HEC in the design and delivery of the Executive Masters in Energy & Resources at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU): this is a unique program suited to Qatari and regional needs, and it could only ever be conceived of here in Education City

What are the plans for offering other courses and studies?

In 2013 we partnered with the Josoor Institute to support the delivery of sports events and sports management related programs for Qatar and the region.  Other programs are in discussion and we hope to share more information once they are finalized.

How is your faculty expansion plan progressing? 

We have gone from 25 students in 2005 to 254 this fall, an impressive rate of growth for a highly selective university. Our recruitment of 12 faculty members brings us to just over 50 faculty: we look forward to the final three appointments this year.

How would you assess current scholarship on Qatar and the Gulf and how has your role as Associate Editor of the Journal of Arabian Studies helped? 

While our academic program is the heart of our Qatar campus, Georgetown’s well established tradition of relevant and cutting edge research is also a major pillar of our work. Being embedded in the region allows us to produce research on a wide variety of regionally relevant topics by some of the world’s most respected scholars. The track record of our Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) is recognized globally as an exceptional contribution to scholarship. 

Our role in producing the only scientific journal focusing on the Arabian Peninsula, the Journal of Arabian Studies, further enhances the quality of scholarly research of direct relevance to this region – from migrant labor to regional economics, intra-GCC relations, and issues of language and identity. Our students are adding to this by the establishment of their own refereed journal - Middle East Studies Student Association Journal - with focused scholarship about the region from some of the best students from around the world.

How successful has the global-classroom approach been in terms of teaching and connecting students to the US campus and elsewhere? 

Our global video-conferencing classes have proven to be a very successful educational tool, with students gaining immeasurable benefit and memorable experiences from interacting with their cohorts at the main campus in Washington D.C.  The virtual classroom allows students living 8,000 miles apart to meet face-to-face for discussion and interaction, and it allows us to bring in the voices of faculty, experts, and industry leaders to Doha, despite the barriers of borders and time zones. 

What initiatives has Georgetown been involved in with regard to diplomacy? 

We continue to collaborate on customized education programs with the Diplomatic Institute. We have also signed MoUs with other entities. We already have an internship arrangement with Brookings Doha, allowing our students to apply the theories and skills learned in the classroom to real-world policy research. We are introducing internships with the American Embassy to learn the breadth of engagement for diplomatic mission; with Blue Rubicon in London to learn the art and science of public relations and communications; and with Silatech to support the development of vocations for Middle Eastern youth.

What research will be carried out with the latest Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) grants? 

We were delighted to win another $2.5 million research grants in the latest Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) awards. This year’s winning projects will expand knowledge about several vital aspects of Qatar’s development plans, including food security, migrant labor issues, and Qatar’s global leadership in promoting interfaith dialogue.


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