GU-Q 100: A Celebration of Knowledge


– Your Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Your Excellency Sheikha
Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Your Excellencies Provost Robert
Groves, Dean Joel Hellman, esteemed faculty and staff of Georgetown University in Qatar, honored guests, dear students. Welcome and thank you for joining us in this very special
celebration in the history of Georgetown University in Qatar and of Qatar Foundation’s journey towards being a globally
recognized knowledge producer. Tonight, we are celebrating the milestone of having published 100 books,
actually, 103, (chuckles) (people laughing) by faculty and staff of
Georgetown University since joining the QF family in 2005. But this represents just a portion of our total research output. As you know, many fields
do not publish books. Instead, they publish in
scholarly peer-reviewed journals, and so this celebration
is not just about books, but it’s allowed GU-Q’s
research production as a whole. Research at GU-Q spans many disciplines. Faculty specializations
include, and please bear with me as I list some of these,
migration and diaspora studies, global markets, international trade and development economics, comparative and international
politics, political economy, elite and agrarian politics,
media and politics, the history and historiography
of social movements, women’s studies,
colonialism and nationalism, diplomatic history and world
history, Arabic English and French languages, literatures,
and literary criticism, comparative world literature,
ethics, distributive justice, bioethics, metaphysics,
and last but not least, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian theology,
law, and mysticism. Regional areas of interest range widely from the US to China, Vietnam
to India and Pakistan, Ireland to the UK, Spain and Russia to virtually all points within
the Middle East and the Gulf. Our researchers are publishing
in university presses such as Oxford, Cambridge,
University of Chicago, Cornell, Columbia, McGill, and many other presses that require the rigorous
peer review process to publish books and also in
top peer-reviewed journals. This research falls
mostly within the field of humanities and social sciences. Those of you following
trends in higher education, recall that funding for humanities has experienced a precipitous
decline under the influence of globalization and the
commodification of knowledge. Countries have identified
investment in science and technology as a way of
driving means of production and profitable innovation,
and this has come at the cost of humanities
and social sciences research, whose public good function is less clearly defined or less visible. In the United States, the national budget for academic humanities has
dropped by more than half, as did number of PhDs
produced in these fields, and the support for the
humanities and social sciences sadly continues to decrease. And although less documented,
there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the
challenges to the humanities and social sciences in the Arab
world and the Global South, more broadly, are even more critical. Consider some metrics related to arts and humanities scholarship
in the Arab world. In 2013, the Web of Science database indexed more than 18,000 journals. The database included more
than 55 million records covering the period of 1898 to 2013, including more than 40
million research papers. Of these, 1.5 million were published in arts and humanities sources,
and only about 3,000 of 1.5, or less than 0.2% of these
papers were published in the Arab world, compared to 436,000, or 29% of papers published
in the United States. Of course, it’s well
known that these metrics and quality indicators are largely biased in favor of publications in English and other Western languages
and mainstream journals. Almost completely missing on
these lists are publications in Arabic and journals
published in the Arab world. Some of these journals,
including a few journals published out of Qatar are of high quality and are subject to rigorous
peer review processes. However, even in terms of
sheer numbers, the total number of print periodicals in the
Arab world that are classified as scholarly or academic
journals remains low. So for example, according to the Ulrich
international periodicals directory, the total worldwide number
of such academic journals in all subjects is about 78,000, to which the entire Arab
world contributes about 600. 78,000, the Arab world
contributes about 600, or less than 1%. Compare it to about the
same amount in Turkey alone, and 15,000 in the US. Significantly, in the Arab world, the share of academic journals falling in the general humanities fields, including languages and education, is just half of that at the wider world. Globally, 25% of academic
journals fall in this category of arts and humanities,
and in the Arab world, it is less than 13%. These and other indicators
suggest a grim picture, or what some call a crisis
of arts, humanities, and social sciences in the Arab world, and more broadly, globally. These indicators also
suggest radical differences between the situation in the Arab world and Western countries. To be sure, some
predicaments are comfortable, but the complexity of the
humanities and social sciences does not only derive from
the diversity of fields and approaches or from political
and economic pressures, but also from the way
in which the humanities are taught and researched. In a nutshell, humanities
education and the Arab world is largely uncontextualized, and is often reduced to a set of skills such as writing, reading,
and critical thinking. As such, humanities education loses its real productive function as the creative driver of
intellectual innovation, and this is at the heart of why what Georgetown University
in Qatar is contributing, I think, is so crucial. Roughly half of all the texts
cataloged in the 100 books, which you’ll be taking
away tonight with you, contain original research conducted on par with the highest global
standards about this region. This humanities and
social science research has been conducted in this
region, for this region, and for others to learn about this region. Through research groups
like the Indian Ocean World, it is also driving research
on the broader political and cultural links between the
region and its surroundings, and that does not include all the other research activities at GU-Q. In addition to their books,
and peer-reviewed journals, and book chapters, our faculty are engaged in a rigorous schedule of
conferences and as speakers both abroad, and of course, here in Qatar. This is one way through which
the knowledge being produced is disseminated and has
contributed to putting Qatar on the global map of knowledge production. Our annual faculty research conference, our bioethics conference, our
Indian Ocean World symposium, Center for International and
Regional Studies workshops, and other research activities,
all of these events bring leading experts to Qatar to engage with our researchers and take away expertise from our scholars. The research infrastructure here is developing a unique
voice of researchers who can speak authoritatively
about the region and from an insider’s perspective, and each class we graduate contributes more competent
researchers to the region. At last week’s Annual
Undergraduate Research Conference, our student researchers
presented their research and critical analysis on such topics as media distortion and
control, militarized nationalism and the construction
of national identities, Levantine political economy
before the nation state, and why religion is an integral element of addressing global challenges. They presented research along
with students from Oxford, from the University of
Michigan, NYU Abu Dhabi, Boston College, and of
course, from Qatar campuses such as Northwestern and VCU. At Georgetown University in Qatar, not only are we producing
relevant research at a global standard, we are
training the next generation of knowledge producers to do the same. Our alumni have already
contributed to UN reports and have had their research
published in books, and we expect more contributions
as their careers mature. As an institution, we can never forget that our main remit is to
provide a high-quality education. However, this debate about the
value of humanities research also touches our educational activities both in the US and here in the Arab world. Education has increasingly been funded based on the employability
of its graduates, resulting in the funneling of social and governmental support to
the professional disciplines. To be sure, unemployment
cuts across fields, but the current reality is
that professional degrees offer a much higher chance of employment than those in the liberal
arts, and even the small number of universities in the Arab
world that professedly subscribe to the model of a liberal arts education, which requires basic education in humanities and social sciences even for professional degrees,
the instrumental aspects of general education as a set
of skills and proficiencies such as analytical thinking
or facility in communications, are emphasized over the core
function of the humanities as knowledge that inculcates
an ability to think critically and imaginatively about life. This way of thinking pits instrumental against humanistic knowledge,
where instrumental knowledge is structured knowledge
that serves an agenda, sharpens skills, or enables a professional to appreciate culture or
communicate in a social setting, while humanistic knowledge
cultivates the aptitude to create meaning through the engagement of cultural legacies, and
to quote Sheldon Pollock, provides access to a
range of possibilities of what it means to be a human being. The crisis of the
humanities in the Arab world is not a purely academic matter. It hinders the ability to
critically engage the legacies of the past in order to
invent once-present identity and implant oneself in
civilization ritual. Cultures that define
identity are not the product of professions, and although
finances, technologies, and industries constitute
defining elements of social relations within societies, cultures do not self-identify with banks, bridges, or supercomputers. They do identify with museums. And it is the humanities
that provide the foundation for expressing and appreciating
the rich cultural diversity of human innovation, and at the same time, they underscore the equality and humanity of the innovators of this diversity. But perhaps more simply put,
the study of the humanities enables us to imagine alternatives to our crisis-ridden present realities, alternatives that are
hidden in distant histories or in the diverse contemporary but unfamiliar human cultures. This is why the knowledge production that we are celebrating tonight
is making tangible impact, and for that, I thank my
colleagues and congratulate them. (audience applauding) Your Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation,
we are honored to have you in attendance of this evening’s event. On this occasion, I’d like to underscore that this accomplishment, indeed, none of our accomplishments
would have been possible without the vision and leadership of His Highness the Father Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and your vision and leadership. I know I speak on behalf
of all of my colleagues when I express our gratitude
to Qatar Foundation for the opportunity to be part
of this unique enterprise, and to you personally for
the unwavering support and advancement of the
grand Education City project that made this achievement possible. (audience applauding) This belief in the power of knowledge is also embodied in our next speaker, and by her inspirational leadership. Her Excellency Sheikha
Hind bint Hamad Al Thani is Vice Chairperson and
CEO of Qatar Foundation. She also serves on the
boards of several education and cultural institutes, including Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar National Library,
HEC Paris as a member of its international
board, and Teach For Qatar. Your Excellency, thank you
for all your constant efforts to advance education,
research, and knowledge, and for sharing in our
celebration tonight. Please join me now in
welcoming Her Excellency. – Salaam alaykum, good evening, everyone. I know we’re all excited
about the panel discussion, so I’ll try to make this
as short as possible. It’s important to convey
to you why this milestone is important to us at Qatar Foundation. This celebration is a dual milestone in the story of Georgetown
University in Qatar and Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. When my mother, Her Highness
Sheikha Moza bint Nasser first envisaged Qatar Foundation
a quarter of a century ago, what she saw was a creation
of an environment of knowledge and learning that would span
multiple academic disciplines and dimensions, equipped students
to meet the needs of Qatar and the demands of the
world, and provide Qatar with international standard education within an Arab context. The realization of her vision
is embodied by Education City, our unique, vibrant, and
constantly innovating model of quality education, and by
the young people we nurture and empower to thrive
academically, think creatively, explore fearlessly, and
make their mark in Qatar and in the world. When we looked to invite some of the world’s most
prestigious universities to join our mission and
contribute to the development of Qatar and its people, we
sought higher education partners that not only offered academic programs of the highest caliber,
but whose ethos and values mirrored those of Qatar Foundation. This is how our partnership
with Georgetown University began and 14 years on, Georgetown
University in Qatar continues to be a beacon
of critical thought inside an intellectual rigor,
nurturing future leaders who will address some of the
most crucial issues of our time through education, research,
and a spirit of exploration and freedom of expression. From its first intake of students onward, GU-Q has reflected its
parent campus’ long tradition of academic excellence. Its graduates are bringing
their intellect, positivity, and sense of service to
strengthening Qatar’s workforce and community while their
humanitarian efforts have benefited societies around the world, making them global
ambassadors for the values that a Qatar Foundation
education promotes, and for the way we empower young people to be drivers of positive social change. And through its wealth
of research in the field of humanities and social sciences, GU-Q has made a significant contribution to the international
profile of QF as a hub of new knowledge, original
thought, and intellectual courage in confronting issues which
influence what our world is and what it can be. The scope of this commitment
to generating knowledge that has relevance for Qatar,
the region, and the world is illustrated by the
fact that we are tonight celebrating the 100th book to be produced by GU-Q’s faculty and staff, but this is not purely
a celebration of output. It is a celebration of the connections to roots of knowledge, the new insights, and the two-way research
benefits that have resulted from GU-Q being a part of Education City. Being based in Qatar has
opened up fresh avenues of discovery for Georgetown faculty, not only by enabling them
to explore and research in the MENA region from close
up rather than far afield, but also by the varied perspectives that our diverse student
body contributes to in creating a deeper bank of
knowledge and academic thought. Georgetown University
has been instrumental in being a source of
knowledge for students of the region Education City. In this way, we hope we have reciprocated. When Qatar Foundation
entered into its partnership with Georgetown University, it was with a tangible purpose in mind. The achievements and impact of Georgetown University in Qatar demonstrates how this
purpose has been fulfilled. And as we look back on
what this institution has accomplished in Qatar for Qatar, I hope it will provide
inspiration and momentum as we enter the next stage of our shared journey of knowledge. Thank you. I promise it will be short. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Your Excellency, for those thoughtful and kind words. To explore the subject of the impact of our research further, we
have with us tonight a panel of subject experts who also are
witnesses to the development of Georgetown University in Qatar. The panel will be moderated
by Dean Joel Hellman of the School of Foreign
Service in Washington, DC. Dean Hellman has a long
career in diplomacy, having joined the School
of Foreign Service following 15 years of
service at the World Bank, where he most recently served as Chief Institutional Economist, and previously led its
engagement with fragile and conflict-affected states as Director of the Center on Conflict,
Security, and Development in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to that, he was Manager of the Governance and Public Sector Group of the South Asian Region,
stationed in New Delhi. Earlier in his career,
Dean Hellman was professor at Harvard and Columbia universities. I will shorten my introductions because I’m sure you want
to listen to the panelists. Also on the panel is Her
Excellency Lolwah Khater, Spokesperson of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a member of the GU-Q
Joint Advisory Board. Before her appointment as
the Spokesperson for MOFA, she served in various roles, including Minister Plenipotentiary,
it’s a difficult word, Plenipotentiary, at the Ministry, Director of Planning and Quality
at Qatar Tourism Authority, and as a Research Project
Manager at Qatar Foundation. In addition to her official role, Her Excellency acts as an
independent policy analyst. She co-edited the book, Policymaking in a Transformative
State, the Case of Qatar, and she authored Educational
Outputs and Labor Market Needs, a Study on Labor Market Issues and Methods of Addressing Them. She acts as a Research Associate at the Oxford Gulf and
Arabian Peninsula Forum at St. Antony’s College at
the University of Oxford, and is also a board member at The Institute for Palestine Studies. Professor James Reardon-Anderson
is a Professor of History at Georgetown University in Qatar, and also the Founding Dean of Georgetown University School
of Foreign Service in Qatar, overseeing its establishment
from 2005 to 2009 and subsequently returning
for a second term from 2016 to 2017. He is a specialist in
modern Chinese history. Prior to his time in Qatar,
Professor Anderson held a number of roles at Georgetown University, including Interim Dean of
the School of Foreign Service in Washington, Senior Associate Dean, and Director of The Georgetown University Master of Science in
Foreign Service Program, and by the way, Jim, happy birthday. (audience applauding) Professor Amira Sonbol is a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar specializing in the
history of Modern Egypt, Islamic history and law,
women, gender, and Islam. She has been a professor at
Georgetown University in Qatar since it opened in 2005
and is the Founding Editor and added Editor-in-chief of Hawwa, the Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World. Prior to her appointment in Qatar, Dr. Sonbol was a professor in the Center for Muslim Understanding at the School of Foreign
Service in Washington, DC. Dr. Mehran Kamrava is
Professor and Director of the Center for International
and Regional Studies at Georgetown University in Qatar. He has also acted as Interim Dean at Georgetown University
in Qatar from 2009 to 2011. He’s a political scientist specializing in regional politics of the
Gulf and a prolific author on a range of regional
and international topics. He has played an important role in setting the research
agenda for the university. And last but not least,
Professor Gerd Nonneman is professor and former Dean
of Georgetown University, Qatar from 2011 to 2016. He specializes in Gulf studies
and has been a consultant at a number of institutions
across the region. Prior to his appointment at
Georgetown University in Qatar, he served as Professor at
the University of Exeter, where he also directed
the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and the
Center for Gulf Studies. He previously served as Executive Director of British Society for
Middle Eastern Studies and he is the Editor of the
Journal of Arabian Studies, which is the leading
journal for Gulf studies. Dean Hellman, I now turn
the microphone to you. – First, let me say, as Dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown in Washington,
it is really a privilege and an honor to sit
here on the stage with, when the history books of
this place are written, these are really the giants
that established that history, and to be in the audience with
so many others of the giants who really were critical
in building, founding, and developing this place. It’s a great opportunity and
a great privilege for me, and I’m pleased to be here. Many of you may know that the
School of Foreign Service, in November of this year, in 2019, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary, but it’s good to see that GU-Q
beat us to the 100 punchline by having this celebration
that reflects the history and the strength that
Georgetown University has had in international engagement,
and is a reflection, the work here, of the
extension of that engagement, in shaping and engaging in world affairs. It’s wonderful to be
able to sort of celebrate this milestone with you. Now we thought a lots of different ways we can have this discussion. I suggested maybe we have a synopsis of all the 103 books that were published, but we thought that would
be a marathon session. Instead, we really want to try to draw out some of the broad themes about establishing the
research presence here, and what it’s meant for the
region and for the world. So I’m gonna ask some general questions. I’m gonna try to summarize
the wisdom of those 103 books, and let me start, of course,
with our founding dean. Let me start with Dean
Jim Reardon-Anderson and ask you because, really,
no one’s had a better view of the early days of establishing
this campus here in Doha. I wonder if you could just
please, so share with us how you thought about the
challenge of establishing and building a research
agenda into the structure of the university, in addition
to all the other things that you had on your plate and building a fabulous
teaching university, but tell us a little about
the research exercise and challenge here. – Well, we signed the agreement
with the Qatar Foundation on May 17th of that year
and we opened in August. So we were kind of running
fast and making it up as we went along, I have to admit. The first thing we did is we
brought first class scholars like Amira Sonbol out with us, and Amira has been here since the founding of this institution. I will tell you that as a, I consider myself primarily a teacher, and when I go into the classroom, what I’m really thinking
about is not what I can give these students at the
moment they graduate, but how much I can inspire
them to be learners and to spend the next 20
to 30 years of their life constantly learning new
things, because I don’t know what the problems they’re
gonna face are gonna be, so I can’t tell them how much. I can only Inspire them
to become learners. Now, the question is, how
do you teach learning? That’s a difficult problem, and it’s a complicated set of
skills, but one thing you do is you bring the discovery of
learning into the classroom, and that’s why we do research,
those of us who are teaching, so that we can communicate to our students some of the thrill of learning. When I go to the library, frankly, I spend six or seven days with no results, and I kind of plow
through a lot of material and I go home every night,
and my wife asked me, what did you learn today? I said, nothing, but
then on the eighth day, I open a manuscript and all of a sudden, I realized something that
I never thought of before, in fact, maybe it overturns everything I thought of previously, and
that’s the moment of discovery. That’s the moment the light bulb goes off, the ball bearings slip into
the brain, and you realize that you’ve just learned
something, and it’s that process of learning that we’re trying
to communicate to our students and make them lifelong learners and lovers of learning itself. So that’s, I mean, that’s, in a nutshell, what I brought out here. I didn’t come up with
a plan to do research. I never imagined we’d
publish a hundred books. I credit that to Mehran and Gerd. That wasn’t me. (people laughing) – Well then, let me move on
to me Mehran and Gerd then, because obviously,
built into the very idea of creating this campus and this school was enveloping and
meshing a research center into its very core, so
tell us a little bit about, if Jim talked about the
teaching mission of this place, how did you ensure that we could
build up a research mission on par with the teaching mission? – Excellent question. One of the first missions
that I had when I came here in 2007 was to articulate
a research entity that would be befitting
of the vision and mission of Qatar Foundation and
the vision and mission and profile of Georgetown
University, and in many ways, the early ones of us who
were here, we discovered that the region here at
the Arabian Peninsula is a blank canvas, and we
had an opportunity here to tap into local
resources, local knowledge, and really contribute something
to bodies of knowledge that existed, to do cutting-edge research that didn’t really exist
in the past, and in that, we were quite fortunate
that we had partners at Qatar University, immediately, we had the Qatar National Research Fund. There were a number of
resources, a whole network of scholars, both in Qatar,
across the region and beyond that were keen to engage with
us and help us in the journey of discovery that Jim
alluded to, and in that, we were able to attract
scholars regionally, locally, nationally, as well as globally,
to help us learn new things and to contribute to knowledge. – Well, I also want to ask
about the student dimension of research, too, because
we’ve talked about the kind of research that you were able
to tap into in the region, we talked about the teaching mission. Perhaps I could ask Amira Sonbol to talk about the student dimension. What was it like trying to
engage students in research? How has the research mission
of GU-Q impacted how we engage and what we do with students? – From what I remember, we first had to get them
involved in reading. (chuckles) That was the first
challenge is to convince them that you actually, before you learn, you have to actually enjoy
reading, so I must admit, I still have that challenge
with my freshman class this semester, but
(chuckles) they’re laughing. (people laughing) Yeah, but they can, once
they catch on, I think we, the first 25 students we had were a dream as far as I’m concerned, and
Jim, you may remember them. The very first 25 you remembered by name, and they were hungry for knowledge, they were hungry for understanding. They wanted us badly. There was so much energy at the time. That’s the only thing, when I
remember our first coming here and why it is that I
decided to actually stay on, is the amount of energy, the
will to succeed, the love and passion for knowledge
that Qatar Foundation and its leadership and our students had was really infectious, and I must say, everything we built here, and I’m glad you asked that question, ’cause we should give the
students credit for this. They were really part and parcel of the building process of this place. Their involvement, their wish
to build a student government, to have elections, this
really was student-based, and a lot of the
activities came from them, and we just led, we were there to lead on. I mean when we talk about just education, what we do is we lead the students to what it is they want to actually bring. Basically, to find the
inside them, this ember that, and the passion and we blow on it, and I think this is really what
happened those first years. So to convince them that research is part of it became natural. Once they caught on, once
they caught on to reading, got into classes, became
excited about the material, you’re excited with
them and that’s half of, half the effort is to
actually be involved. It’s all about involvement,
bringing that energy into the classroom and
letting them find it, and after that, too, it was
way too good to actually leave. I can’t believe we’ve been 14 years here. I heard Sheikha Hind say that 14 years, yes, 14 years have passed. We’ve grown old, Jim, here. (people laughing) It’s a fact, so yes,
it’s been a long time, but I think all together,
it’s time to reflect and thank you, Sheikha
Moza, for bringing us over. This has been a wonderful experience. – I do want to keep on
the theme for a moment and ask Gerd, perhaps, the
theme of students in research, because one of the things
some of our guests here might not recognize is how
deeply involved students are in the research mission of our work. So sometimes they think,
well, the faculty do research and the students are
engaged in our classes, but in Georgetown and here at GU-Q, I know that students
have played and benefited and have been engaged in
the research exercise. Perhaps, Gerd, you can
tell us a little bit more and explain to those who don’t really know how faculty and students
interact in the research agenda. What does that look like for students? What does it mean for students? – Sure, but first, I can’t
help reacting a little bit to what my colleagues have said so far, because I was one of those who got excited by simply coming here and
discovering what was going on, because I was not from Georgetown before, and I was attracted by, of
course, the Georgetown name and then history and
everything else, and vision, but also by what I knew already
what had been achieved here, in particular, CIRS. CIRS, the Center for International
and Regional Studies, kind of had spread global recognition of Georgetown University in Qatar even before it was more generally known, so I came here because of that. I’ve been involved one of the projects. I arrived here, and in fact,
one of the first things I then got excited by was
precisely the students. Because one of the things
that you go through, talking to students and convincing them that you might be a good
next dean, but in fact, what I got out of it was
a huge dose of excitement and enthusiasm, so that,
one of my only regrets of the period, my period as dean here, was that I couldn’t be in the classroom, at least not consistently,
teaching and engaging with the students, and that’s one thing that I now enjoy again. I’m not sure what they think about it, but I’m sure I’m enjoying it, but so, one particular example
of how this all starts, so I’ve seen in Georgetown, not just here, but in Georgetown in general, is our School of Foreign Service, is a particular course
called the Proseminar. Now that doesn’t tell you anything, right? It doesn’t tell you what’s in it, and everybody has to take
it in their first year, but what it is, and I
had to discover this, is you get first year
students in with a professor, talking about and learning
to do research on a subject that excites this particular professor, so it’s usually something
that you’re doing research on. So this idea that you’d
basically pick a professor, pick what they’re excited
about and doing research on, throw them in a classroom with a bunch of first year students. That’s the kind of idea that
creates further excitement that engenders this
whole learning process, and I taught this for
the first time this year, and I enjoyed it immensely, and it seems to have gone
down well with the students, so I’m still getting enthused
by discovering further aspects of this kind of education. Now beyond that, what
then happens quite a lot, and more than I’ve seen
in other universities, is that students are often
asked, and sometimes, themselves suggest to be part of a project with the professor. Our economist colleagues have
been very strong in this, but also a range of others. CIRS has a special program
actually to engage students, undergraduate students, in some
of their research projects. So it really spans the
spectrum of subjects, and then there is UREP. The Undergraduate Research
Experience Program, which is something again
that Qatar Foundation, through QNRF, sponsors, and
it’s, again, where students and a professor get together to put forward a research proposal on something that’s relevant and exciting and promises to add
something to knowledge, and if it’s successful, it can be funded, it’s funded by The Qatar
National Research Fund through this UREP program. So then you have, usually
over a period of a year or two years, students
working with these professors on these projects, and
some of these things have led to prestigious publications. It’s not just that the
project is completed, but things are published
in journals and so on. So I wanna pick up just one
thing that Dean Dallal mentioned earlier in his introductory remarks. It is true that some of
our alumni and students have published things in book chapters, and have presented conferences, but they’ve actually also
published a number of articles in prestigious peer
review journals already. So I think that’s a test of success, and I think that success is based in part of this whole vision of
integrating teaching and research, and the excitement that comes
with that, but of course, also in all the other things
that people have already said, that the whole history
and vision about education of Georgetown, and of course, Sheikha Moza’s and Qatar
Foundation’s vision about what this project
could be, and I admit to having followed Qatar development for a long, long many
years before I arrived. Initially, like many people,
I thought this concept of Education City might be a
bit over-ambitious and so on, and then I began to realize, actually, this has got real traction, and I saw this in the project of CIRS. Then I arrived, and it’s become, it’s been an unbelievable experience. – Well, let’s talk a
little bit about the region because first of all, we’re so pleased to have Her Excellency Lolwah Khater here from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and we’ve talked about
these 103 books since 2005. The numbers, 50% of them
are about the region. 15% of them have dealt with
Arabic language and literature, 34% of them have contained
research explicitly about Qatar, so it’s wonderful to
have you here on the dais to give us a broader view
of what you think the impact of this research has been for Qatar and for the region overall. – Thank you so much, Dean Hellman, Your Highness Sheikha Moza,
Your Excellency Sheikha Hind, Dean Dallal, Excellencies,
ladies and gentlemen, I’m deeply delighted to be
here with you on this occasion. I would like to congratulate
the Georgetown community for such a remarkable accomplishment, not only hundred books, but 103 books. (people laughing) It’s remarkable by all
standards, not only regional, but I would claim, also
international standards. If I may also echo your
words, Dean Hellman, I’m very honored to be
part of this constellation of distinguished panelists. Some of them, we grew up reading for them, such as Dr. Amira Sonbol, so
very, very honored indeed. To make a comment on all the excitement that the distinguished panelists
expressed about learning and the students, and the
25 students you mentioned, I believe some of them are
my colleagues currently. Some of them are here
actually, so I bear witness to the quality of the
graduates of Georgetown. We have a number, a sizable number, of well-rounded, distinguished,
excelling diplomats, so thank you, actually, Georgetown, but I should admit as well that we have rivalry in the office. So we have Georgetown students and we have Northwestern students. (people laughing) And I try to navigate my way through them, but sometimes I just give up. – How many books have they published? (people laughing) No, I’m just kidding. (audience applauding) – I hope Northwestern– – I’m kidding, I’m sure
it’s very many. (chuckles) – In terms now, in terms of
the question about the impact on the overall region, not only Qatar, now one transformation that
not only Georgetown had, but I would claim that
the educational reforms that Qatar went through had,
whether it’s Georgetown, the wider Education City
or Qatar University, is to shift away little bit from a concept that has existed for a long
time in the Arab region, with a few exceptions like
AUB, maybe AUC, that is, teaching-intensive universities, right? I mean that the main
goal of any university is to graduate students and
this is the accomplishment. We’ve moved to
research-intensive universities, and we’ve been talking about
about graduating students, but then also creating
researchers, producing knowledge, and I think this is the major structural, transformative impact that
Georgetown, Education City have had in the past 10, 15 years, and I hope that this
will continue, I mean, with the help of entities like
Qatar National Research Fund, just to give you one example. The first seven years, they
gave grants that would amount to half a billion dollar. I mean, for our region, by
our standards, this is huge. 2017, 2.8% of our GDP in Qatar went R&D, not only research but
R&D in its wider sense. Also, this is a significant amount. It’s very important to produce knowledge, and to produce meaningful knowledge. This could be my comment
maybe in the second round, but I think it’s very
important that we distinguish, when we look at the landscape
of policies on one hand and education research on the
other hand, to distinguish between the different roles and functions that different actors have. We have research centers in academia, but then we have think tanks, and then we have
consultancies, and oftentimes, we mix them up, and
we’ll come to that point maybe in the second round. – No, I don’t think we’re gonna have time for second round so go straight into it. – Sure, absolutely, we’ll do that. I just didn’t want to
dominate the discussion. So when it comes to research centers, when it comes to academia,
when it comes to universities, knowledge is sometimes produced
for the sake of knowledge, and this should be okay. If you spend time researching
the, I don’t know, the influence sort of Aristotle
on (mumbles) for example, that’s completely fine. Spend 20 years doing that. But then you have the role of think tanks, which are supposed to produce knowledge that are policy-oriented,
implementable recommendations, and here we start talking
about different dynamics in terms of the research
and policy circles, and how do we inform the policy cycle? And then you have consultancies. So consultancies, oftentimes, are also involved in implementation. You don’t expect a think tanker
to be implementing things, only maybe to assess,
to recommend, et cetera, and I think in order to
lift the scene of policy in the Arab region, it’s very important that we have the three actors
working hand-in-hand together, and we need a lot of research about issues that pertain to the moment,
about poverty, unemployment, many other questions that
pertain to the wider Middle East, and of course, here in
Qatar, we also need that, but I would claim that we have
put forward a unique model, in the sense that we invited
a number of think tanks to Qatar to provide objective assessment, to provide evidence-based recommendations, and so on and so forth. This empowerment that was
given to think tanks in Qatar is a very unique model in our region, and it is indeed much needed. – It’s a wonderful point and
I want to stay with the idea of a unique model and the
boldness of the vision of creating Education City,
the boldness of the vision of bringing multiple
campuses and think tanks and consultancies to this place, and generate an entirely
new Qatar of students and researchers, and what I’d
like to do is open a question to any or all of the panelists,
to say how the uniqueness of this model, of this
place, of the moment of creating Education City, how do you think it shaped
the research enterprise here? How would it be, how is it different than if it were on the
campus in Washington, DC? What is it about the environment that may have shaped the research process, shaped what you did, maybe
shaped how you did it, or shaped your perspectives in building this really
impressive body of research. I open it up to any of the panelists. – If I may, I discovered,
to my pleasant surprise, that here in Qatar, we were
able to do a kind of research that we simply couldn’t
do elsewhere, for example, had we been located in
Washington or in London, and that’s because we have
here a unique convening power that enables us to draw scholars
from a variety of countries where we couldn’t, quite frankly, collect them in the United States. So for example, at the Center for International
and Regional Studies, early on, we did a research initiative on the nuclear question
in the Middle East, and right around the table,
we had scholars from Qatar, as well as Iran, Israel,
United States, Saudi Arabia, and that ability to bring
scholars and enable them to engage in open dialogue and exchange of views, I don’t think we could do that
anywhere else, quite frankly, and so our location has been a source of tremendous comparative
advantage and, quite frankly, the freedom that we have had to engage in the kind of research has enabled us to do the kind of work and ask questions that I don’t think we
could do anywhere else. – Other thoughts, Amira. – Sure, actually one of the things that my colleagues and I had
when we first arrived here, was to see where we were,
because we are oriented in Washington looking at the world, but now we were in the
Gulf looking at the world, so all of a sudden, we realize we have a different enterprise than what we have in Washington, because I come from the
School of Foreign Service in Washington, so how do we handle this? We began to introduce programs
and think in a different way, and one of the programs we have
is the Indian Ocean program, and really, one of the
reasons we did this endeavor, and my colleagues and
I thinking about this, but Professor Abusharaf is here. She’s one of the persons who founded this. Professor of Phoebe Musandu, Uday Chandra, also, Professor Sandra from Northwest. She was with us, too. We basically wanted to
open the Gulf to the world, and we realized that as long
as we were talking about land and trade through, it becomes
landlocked, and so we thought we are going to talk about oceans. Let’s talk about what involves the Gulf, and all of a sudden, the Gulf opened to the rest of the world, so our interest is really Doha, Qatar,
where we are in the Gulf, and basically, the trade
of the Gulf is involved through the waterways, or
rather than through land, and therefore, the project
became one that dealt with the wider Indian Ocean,
and because we were interested in Africa to a great extent, actually, our project is
really about remapping Africa and the Indian Ocean, so we
call it the Indian Oceans because it’s easier, but
it’s actually a wider subject to try to rethink this area to, and we have a very important course here called Map of the World that Jim teaches. By the way, for that first
class, he flunked 80% of them. (people laughing) I told him that the other day. He said he’s still doing it. (people laughing) Yeah, the idea was to do
remapping, and basically, all the courses and all the researches, my colleagues were saying earlier, have to do with our students. We don’t do a project that does not have the students in mind. So we wanted the students to know that there’s something for that. The world is not mapped. We map the world. It’s the context that creates maps, and so we have a depository
and that there’s a web page now that you can actually look at. Basically, we study. We put a repository of maps that show the context
that produced the map, since the beginning of time until today, and that’s intended to show change, and what we do change, geopolitics, how geopolitics show how we
envision the world around us, how representation becomes more important than just the knowledge we collect. It’s very much part of
what we do with research and putting web page, a web page was a way of communicating our ideas because again, we realized we’re far away. How do we communicate? How do we connect? And so we thought that having a platform where people can discuss
and look at what we do here. We have all the videos from
our sessions, from our meetings on there, and we’re hoping,
we just launched that. We’re hoping that people, as they read, they will actually communicate with us, so that’s one of the
innovations we’ve had to do, and I’m sure others have more
to say, that we’ve had to do by relocating or locating
ourselves in a different spot than in Washington. – I also want to ask Gerd in
particular, because in addition to the cultural context,
which Sheikha Hind mentioned when she was talking about
the extraordinary aspect of this whole enterprise, we
are producing this research at a particularly
tumultuous time in the Gulf, and we’re writing about politics and we’re writing about culture, and we’re writing about a lot of issues. Tell us a little bit about
the excitement, the challenge, the impact of doing this kind
of research in this place at this really interesting time. – So the opportunity and the excitement, the exciting part about it is
of course being located here, from the inside out, and
I could link it again with one of the earlier themes, the theme of working with students. Some of my and I know some
of my colleagues’ ideas about research, indeed,
about particular projects, or about the way in which
they might go about a project, actually came from the
classroom, or from discussions with students, and talking
to other colleagues who are also in this broader environment, so being located here, in part because of the class experience, already influences the research
in some of these issues. There are, of course, always challenges, but one of the, in particular,
in this broader region, have to do with academic freedom. And so one of the astonishing things, if you look at the comparative
context in this region, is precisely the freedom
of academic endeavor that you have here, and
we can, I’ve been able, when I was still dean,
trying to recruit top people from around the world to come and invest in their academic career here rather than in Washington, let’s
say, or other universities, and that’s one of the
questions one has to address, and I could say with my hand on my heart that we have never, in
trying to identify key issues to research, we have never had any sense in which we were driven by anything other than what is interesting,
what is worthwhile, what is gonna have an impact? Those were the criteria. There was never anybody who
told us you can’t research this, you can’t write that, can’t teach this. So it’s exactly as universities at the highest levels should operate. It’s the only way they can
operate, and the fact that, thanks to the vision of Qatar Foundation and Her Highness and Sheikh
Hamad, this was made possible, I think is in itself
an extraordinary thing, and has produced results. Otherwise, we wouldn’t
be where we are now. It’s all very well to
publish lots of things. The question is where
do you get it published? What journals does it get into? What publishers will
accept these manuscripts after peer review? Only the kinds of things that are produced through such an environment that includes full academic
freedom, a real research ethos of the best globally
competitive universities will get the research
into those publishers, will get the research into those journals, and that’s what’s happened. I mean the proof of the
pudding is in the eating, or in the publishing, so to speak. I can’t help mentioning one other thing that the Journal of Arabian Studies, which Dean Dallal kindly
mentioned, which I have the honor of editing with my colleague, James Onley, who is now at QNL, has now, even though it’s a fairly
young journal if you compare it to some of the great
journals of the (mumbles), has actually got to the
point of being indexed. Now that might sound
very boring, technical, geeky kind of thing to say, but in order to be recognized globally, it’s not only important
that these journals get read and cited, it’s important
that the few gatekeepers, the indexers’ organizations
that show the world that your journal is indeed read and that produce all
the numbers about this, that they accept it for
indexing, and that, I found out, was not a self-evident thing to breach. We’ve got there, and all
in this young organization, Georgetown University in Qatar,
this is one of our journals that happens to be produced
here, but that leads me to the final point I wanted to make about this particular location. As I already said, my co-editor is based at Qatar National Library. Moving away from my journal now, some of our recent publications,
the one that stands out, one that stands out, it
was on the Qatar crisis, on the Gulf crisis, and the
idea was to do something, Rory Miller, my colleague here
at Georgetown had this idea with colleagues at Qatar
Foundation, HBKU Press. Why not do something that
brings together a number of colleagues from across Education City, with different specialisms,
and let them approach with their professional expertise, with their professional
lenses, this whole issue, published as here. You can only do that here. So there’s a number of things, that Northwestern students
and Northwestern colleagues, our colleagues, right? I’m never more delighted
than when in my classes, I have half of my students
from Northwestern. Again, it creates a kind
of dynamic that you don’t, you can’t have in other kinds
of places and environments, so I’ll leave it there. – Thanks, and I’m gonna end
with Jim but before I do, I want to ask Your Excellency
because it’s so wonderful to have you here and you
have the faculty here, many of whom produced these 103 books and are working on the next hundred books, which we hope are gonna be
even faster than 14 years, when we do the bicentennial, what topics, what are the issues from your perspective that are most pressing
that you want to hear from this faculty and this
collection of students in the future research agenda? – We’re going through this very
critical phase that, I mean, if we can point at one
characteristic of this phase, it would be unpredictability,
and talking about the GCC, of course, I think
questions about governments, the applied research is important. We need that to inform policymaking, but I think it’s about time to start asking the major,
if you wish, philosophical, structural questions about our region. What does it mean to have a
GCC, just to give one example. The Arab League, I mean,
what do they stand for? Do we need to revisit that,
but then do we need to revisit, I mean, being here in the
arena of political science. There is a generation that lost faith in the concept of nation state altogether. Their imagination is going beyond, and they’re joining the non-state actors, transnational movements. How do I address that? How do we create a
consensus around the concept that would bring us all
together about the basic things? Let alone the aspirations
of union, et cetera, no, the basic things within each country. This is very important. It’s extremely important,
and I keep saying that the one mostly overlooked but yet very important
achievement, quote, unquote, of the Arab Spring in the first
18 months is the following. It had the ability to create a consensus, not over the concepts or the
objectives, but the mechanisms through which people can
mediate their differences. You saw liberals, Islamists,
secularists, you name it, all of them adhered to
what the universal suffrage would lead to in terms of
elections, voting, et cetera. This is an agreement on the
mechanisms, and I would claim that this is the best we can ever get, not only in the Arab region. Elsewhere. You will never eradicate the differences. The only example we know of eradicating differences is fascism. All people are created same size, it’s just like an assembly line. You cannot create that. Differences will always
remain, so the question is, how do we mediate those differences? And I go back, there was, at one point, a consensus over the mechanisms. If we have the ability to
recreate that through evidence, through research, through
knowledge dissemination, then that would be the
greatest achievement that we can achieve for the Arab region in the coming maybe 10 years or 20 years. – Well, Jim, you started it all. I have to give you the last word in sort of setting the
course for the future. What are the, what are,
given your experience here, given what you’ve seen
and what we’ve achieved in the 14 years that we’ve been here, what are you think are
some of the key forces that need to drive us
forward to the next stage of development of this campus, and ensure we’re addressing the issues that have been laid here on the table? – Gosh, well, that’s a huge question. I do say I want to thank
Ahmad for signaling with my birthday today,
and for Joel reminding us we’ve been here for 14 years. And I would just like to say that I consider Amira a young chick. (people laughing) So from where I sit, she looks
pretty, pretty young to me. So where are we gonna go from here? I don’t know where we’re gonna go, but I will tell you where I’ve gone. I spent most of my career studying China, and I wrote several books on
China, and then I came here, and I taught a, Gerd was
mentioning a freshman proseminar. I remember this young man that sat at the other end of the table. His name is Mohamed, and
Mohamed and I always had battles in that proseminar. We had very different ideas
about how things should go, and I remember thinking, I
don’t really know very much about this part of the world. I should find out, so
I’ve spent the last year writing a history of Qatar, and I’ve completely remade
myself as a scholar, and I’m not gonna study China anymore. I’m gonna try to understand
the emergence of Qatar, and so I very much credit my
students, and in particular, this one young man named Mohamed for having started that process out. I don’t know where my
colleagues are gonna go, but I hope they have a
similar moment of discovery that they can draw and to inform their
research in the future. That’s how I think of things. – Well, as the man who
fails 80% of the students who take Map of the Modern
World, I can tell you one thing that our students in
Washington are thankful for, that Jim has transferred over here. (people laughing) – Yeah, well. – No, I kid him for it, but he is, Jim, course, Map of the Modern
World, remains an icon on the Georgetown campus,
and I’m so thrilled to see that it remains an
icon in shaping the experience of the Qatar campus because
it really is the signature of an education in international affairs, and it really was developed, designed, and built through Jim’s leadership. Well, look, we covered an
enormous range of topics, which is appropriate when
you have an enormous range of 103 books to try to sort
of summarize the impact of. It speaks to the strength,
to the diversity, to the importance, and to
the urgency of the mission that we have here on this campus, and I’m pleased to be able to sit with you and get more engagement and
greater depth and understanding in what you’ve achieved here. Thank you so much for
participating, but more importantly, thank you so much for all you’ve done in creating this wonderful
environment, and thank you all for being here in the
audience, for participating and being the builders
of this wonderful place. Thank you, have a good day.

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