GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Importance of Arab Perspective in Future GCC Scholarship: Evidence from an American Journalism Program in Qatar
Paper Proposal Text :
A likely outcome of heavy investments by GCC nations in higher education is a renaissance of Arab scholarship within the global academic community. Evidence for this emerging future may be found in abundance in an unlikely venue: a high quality, college-level American journalism program sponsored by the State of Qatar.

Like other GCC nations, Qatar is a wealthy nation that is seeking to transform its economy from a petroleum-based system to a “knowledge-based economy,” and it has made education at all levels a top national priority. This endeavor undeniably faces challenges. In 2013, according to the World Bank, Qatar had a gross domestic product per capita, on a purchasing power parity basis, of more than $136,000, roughly three-and-a-half times that of the United Kingdom. And yet, in a recent international student assessment with 64 participating nations, Qatar’s 15-year-olds ranked 62nd in math and science and 63rd in reading. Like other GCC nations, Qatar has a long way to go to achieve a knowledge-based economy.

Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that thoughtful investments in education will produce new frontiers of scholarship in GCC nations, as they have at many times and places. Moreover, the interaction between traditional Arab culture and higher education in the schools of journalism and communication at Qatar’s Hamad bin Khalifa University provides evidence for the likely direction of future scholarship in GCC nations. The student work in this venue reveals an enthusiasm among Arab students for using the skills of American journalism to give voice to their own communities. This enthusiasm may be found in journalism projects that highlight, for example, potential water shortages in a society bounded by sea and desert, immigrant labor issues in a society with a rapidly developing urban infrastructure and classroom shortages for expatriate children in a society that has relied on expatriates for its rapid development. This evidence suggests that the interactions sponsored by GCC investments in higher education, interactions generally between traditional Arab culture and the skills of imparted by higher education, will produce scholarship powered by the same enthusiasm. These interactions will likely produce fields of scholarship that both arise out of distinctively Arab perspectives and sensibilities and will be exciting and useful to the global academic community as a whole.