Northwestern University J-School to Expand to Qatar

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Officials from Northwestern University say they are finalizing a deal to open a journalism and communications school in Qatar.

“It’s a good partnership for us. It is doing something we haven’t done before,” said Henry Bienen, Northwestern’s president.

The Northwestern extension would be part of a Qatari government-sponsored higher education complex known as Education City. It’s a 2,500-acre site in the city of Doha.

Northwestern would offer undergraduate classes similar to ones at the university’s Medill School of Journalism and School of Communication.

Several American universities including Cornell, Texas A&M, Carnegie-Mellon, Virginia Commonwealth and Georgetown already have campuses at the Education City complex.

The site is maintained by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a nonprofit organization founded by the Qatari royal family in 1995.

The Qatar Foundation will pay for the university’s costs like construction. Northwestern will fund around 50 faculty and staff, some of whom will rotate between the Evanston campus and Qatar.

The school would enroll about 40 students, Bienen said. Tuition would run the same as on the Evanston campus; this year it is approximately $33,408.

Though the curriculum hasn’t been finalized, classes would be offered in reporting, writing, theater, film, and communication.

Barbara O’Keefe, the dean of Northwestern’s School of Communication, said from the Qatar Foundation’s point of view “it is central to their plans for the development of Qatar to have a great educational institution that develops journalists and broadcasters and other professionals.”

O’Keefe envisions students interning at local media outlets including Al-Jazeera TV, the largest Arab-language television network based in Qatar.

Bienen said Northwestern is also discussing the possibility of opening another journalism school in India.

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