Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FLG's Issues With Georgetown SFS In Qatar

In 2005, a branch of Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service opened in Education City, Qatar. Several other American universities, including Northwestern, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon and Cornell, also offer programs at the location. Fear and Loathing in Georgetown, however, thinks Georgetown's presence was and is a huge mistake for a variety of reasons.

The ability to offer a classroom experience equal to the main campus is a concern. If some of the best professors from Washington, who have been part of the environment on the Hilltop, are sent to Qatar to teach at the branch campus, then necessarily the main campus in Georgetown suffers. If Georgetown sends only the weakest of Georgetown professors, then the education in Qatar is subpar. Either way one of the campuses suffer from the expansion. Prior to 2005, Georgetown professors both shaped and were shaped by the intellectual culture on the Hilltop. If Georgetown hires professors specifically for the new campus, even if these professors are of the academic and professional caliber required by Georgetown, they still have never been a part of the academic community in Washington. Furthermore, many of the world-famous practitioners that teach classes at Georgetown will never teach in Qatar.

The students in Qatar will have an entirely different experience outside of classroom. The environment on the Hilltop is unique. It cannot be recreated. I'm certain that a lively academic culture and environment can or has been created in Education City, but it will never be the Hilltop. The shared experiences of our time on the Hilltop is what binds Georgetown alumni together, and yet in the future some Georgetown alumni will have never set foot on campus. It may seem trivial, but, for example, they will never have enjoyed a chicken madness.

I have no idea how the School of Foreign Service's presence in Qatar benefits either the university or the school in a strategic, long-term sense. As far as I can discern, the school is a glorified finishing school for the royalty of Qatar and the surrounding Gulf States. The small size only goes to reinforce this in my mind. Yes, there are non-royal students, but in my mind they are window dressing. Perhaps Georgetown will have an influence on the statecraft of the Qatar and the Gulf States through this endeavor, but perhaps not. A recent article in The Hoya mentioned that most Qatari students are unprepared for the rigors of a Georgetown education. Either way, I don't particularly care.

In conclusion, the campus there cannot recreate the Hilltop. The negatives far outweigh any potential non-monetary upside. (The Qataris chipped in the capital to start the campus and some extra.) A liberal arts education takes place both inside and outside the classroom. Therefore, a degree from SFS-Q can never be the same as one from the Hilltop. Can it be the equal of an education on the Hilltop? Possibly, but it will never be the same. I would be less concerned if the campus was offering a Masters of Science in Foreign Service rather than the Bachelors.

The campus culture is far less important for a professional program. Yet, Georgetown has no intention of offering the MSFS anywhere except in Washington. Perhaps they worry about the ability to maintain the high standards of the MSFS curriculum. While it seems easier to offer a quality undergraduate education when looking at the ability to provide instructors for the courses, classrooms instruction is by no means the only important criteria in an undergraduate education. So, I would argue that it is more difficult to create a quality environment for undergraduates then it is to gather the faculty expertise and strength to offer a world-class professional program.

I sincerely hope that Georgetown recognizes its mistake soon.


dohadame said...

as someone who has strong ties to the DC campus but now lives in doha as part of the sfs-q community, i suggest you come over here to see for yourself before asserting that georgetown made a "mistake."

clearly you are not ready for the globalized environment.

think before writing. your shortage of research vigor is astounding. your ill-informed opinions are a poor reflection on georgetown alumni.

FLG said...

So, you like SFS-Q and live there. I'm happy for you.

However, you simply assert that I am wrong without addressing any of my points, which is a poor reflection on you.

And my issues with SFS-Q are completely irrelevant to my readiness for "globalized environment," which really is a meaningless term in and of itself.

J said...

I am currently a student at SFS-Q, and I would just like to point out the many mistakes you have made in your blog post.

Firstly, I would like to address your statement about SFS-Q students having a different experience. That, of course, is true. QF is not trying to recreate Main Campus in EC, instead, we have developed our own unique community. However, the Hoya spirit is definitely going strong. You also talk about how some SFS- Q alumni will "never have set foot on campus". That is completely false. Most students tend to do their semester abroad at Main Campus/ have visited as a part of the Service Learning trips that take place every semester. Also, students have the chance to take classes with Main Campus students and Professors through video conferencing. Ahh ... the miracle of the technological age...

Secondly, I would like to discuss your description as "a glorified finishing school for the royalty of Qatar and the surrounding Gulf states". Why don't we take a look at the statistics for the class of 2013 at SFS-Q. There are 45 students. 12 are Qatari, and only 5 are from the Al-Thani (ruling) family. On Main Campus, approximately 12% of students are International. Also, Georgetown does not seem to mind mentioning that various members of European, Saudi, and Jordanian royalty are alumni.

Oh and a little side note, I greatly disagree with the statement made in The Hoya. I am Qatari, and I was accepted into some top universities in both the US and the UK. I gained A grades in from an international curriculum (exams being externally marked). My combined SAT I Math and Critical Reading score was 1400, and I took 5 SAT Subject tests, all of which I scored significantly above the US average. In my ACT exam I was in the 90th percentile. All of the Qatari students I know who attend the University (and trust me, we are a minority) have attained similar scores. I would also like to point out that most accepted students come from either the IB, British or their national education system. But I know you "don't particularly care".

Shall we move on? You say SFS-Q students do not receive the same "outside of the classroom" education. That is correct. We at SFS-Q have a greater opportunity. 10 students each semester go on Service Learning trips, and the co- curricular "Zones of Conflict/ Zones of Peace" class. For the latter, two trips are planned, one to Israel/Palestine, and another to China. I would also like to reiterate a point I made earlier. We do have our own diverse Hoya community at SFS. We even have our own clubs, student organisations, and sports teams (some are, in fact, planning to attend overseas competitions). We even had a couple of members of our student body win Best Speaker awards at an International MUN conference held in Germany.

And now we come to your ultimate point. You state that Main Campus has "no intention of offering the MSFS anywhere except in Washington". It may not be within the next year or two, but let me tell you... it will come. Actually, VCU-Q just opened up a Masters in Design Studies, it's only logical that the rest will follow suit. SFS-Q are opening up their third major now, International Economics. One of the Deans even mentioned that it may be possible to work out a situation where the International History major could be made available if enough students wish to do it.

It should also be noted that Georgetown has many other campuses around the world including ones in Turkey and Italy.

So, I really do not see how you can claim that it is a "mistake".

Mark Twain said...

I don't see why either side is complaining. The alternate modernity of both schools might not have me scold them from being both pig like cultures while one respects pig cannibalism and the other retards from it through the sharia of pig cannibalism being an act of haram, which maybe be in respect of a higher thought pattern to the respect of the greater good. The reality is both schools are teaching on the level for material that is on an independent private schools six grade level, coupled with the fact that some Qataris are on a level of pre schooler is equal in terms of failure to the Hilltopper that has the imagination of artistry only when the $$$'s are lined up. I bet if the misinformed cockledoody was to find oil on the farmland where his forefathers would castrate slaves, copulate with their wives and sell their mixed blood children, there would be an absence of post against the Qatari location.

Did you know the Qatari people can trace their tribes further back than you can let paranoia run through your veins as you run across the street from a black person at night who shares your DNA but not your Alumni by way of the democratic way that slaving and sexing are meant for the greater good?

I'll pick a Qatari any day to shine shoes for over the likes and the like nots of you.

Where does your politeness and arrogance stop?

Would you argue with the Russians for eating Black Bread, would you fry in the pulsating sun of Ethiopia because the 'Bread Don't Rise' and 'There's Too Many Flies'?

Shall I I ask my manuscripts be sold to buy you your own diaper changing station so you can say you have an upper hand on 'Old Qatar'

As man who has been to Washington DC for over a hundred years, apart from the 'Hilltop', you should check three things while you brag about your transplanted stay for arch snobbery educational reasons, stop being such a hill top Billy and get rid of your arrogance by actually visiting the city in which you are a foreigner and a temporary guest, drink some water, put away your vanity mirrors for a period of twenty four hours.

Mark Twain

FLG said...

Mark Twain:

I honestly have no idea what you are talking about. You comment makes no sense whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Your a have not spoiled terd - what part of that message don't you get, that you want to sound like a smug proto caucasian but hidden behind the smoke screen you're just a crypto vampire with a paranoid redunant theme of isolationism, secular nuance and white supremacy, SFS grad ... You guys are still learning about Lincoln Log Democracy and Modern Mcarthyism is basically the whole schools philosophy.

It because of morons like you that denizens of Washington D.C. can't afford to go to Georgetown, not because of
Qataris. If you want to know whose Hilltop it is take a look
at the gentrification of the city - it's about as prefabricated
as your Georgetown identity you claim is yours.

Well at least you were able to be brainwashed and for any government supervisor that will be reading your resume giggling at what a nincompoop you've become, that's a
"good" thing.

You write like a arch snob wasp, I know you're not Catholic because you would've understood the precepts of alternate modernity ...

FLG said...

Mark Twain:

I must admit I'm still confused.

Is your issue with Georgetown University, the School of Foreign Service, the School of Foreign Service in Qatar, or Georgetown Students in Washington, DC?

Because it's not clear and your statements seem contradictory on these points.

For example, when you write "get rid of your arrogance by actually visiting the city in which you are a foreigner and a temporary guest, drink some water, put away your vanity mirrors for a period of twenty four hours"

By city in which I am a foreigner, do you mean an American in Doha, Qatar or a overprivileged WASP in Washington, DC? Because, to be honest, it's not at all clear.

If it's the latter, then you should know I'm not in Qatar. If it's the former, then what the heck does that have to do with SFS in Qatar?

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