IIE Networker - Spring 2009 - (Page 31)

SPECIAL FOCUS ON UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Toward a UAE Liberal Studies Stream By Ken Beatty Liberal Studies: All those courses you didn’t want to take in college but now you’re glad you did. THERE ARE MANY definitions of Liberal Studies, but the flippant one above conveys certain truths: students are often apprehensive about taking courses outside of their narrowly defined discipline, such as science courses for arts majors and vice-versa. This apprehension turns to appreciation as students realize the benefit of accommodating new world views, creating a better sense of themselves in society and history, and becoming well-rounded in the process. But, beyond personal enrichment, there is a need for Liberal Studies in today’s globalized economy as colleges and universities increasingly train students who are looking for careers, not just jobs. Liberal Studies help provide students with analytical and problem-solving skills and a sense of the ethical consequences of how their personal and professional decisions affect the world. Courses in Liberal Studies often challenge students to think outside their comfort zones. This is particularly necessary in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Emiratis now make up only 10 percent of the population of their wealthy country, with the service and construction sectors largely populated by an international workforce. Emiratis tend to gravitate toward careers in higher-level employment sectors, particularly in government, education, and the police force. The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) was founded in 1988 as the mass provider of higher education for UAE nationals to pursue professional careers relevant to UAE industry and businesses. HCT is now the largest higher educational institution in the UAE, with 16,600 students at 16 campuses across the country and over 34,000 graduates. However, in an international trend away from vocational education, HCT is pursuing a curriculum that values liberal studies. HCT already features many international linkages and externally accredits–or is in the process of accrediting–eight of its programs of study. The current move to incorporate Liberal Studies is part of HCT’s move toward institutional accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Part of the rationale for doing this is the increasing number of HCT students who need to matriculate to international universities. Traditionally, Liberal Studies programs have explored the enduring ideas and philosoStudents need insight into the mindsets of their increasingly international professional and personal contacts. As is always the case, there are many possible ways to organize a Liberal Studies cur- Courses in Liberal Studies often challenge students to think outside their comfort zones. phies of the past. In North America, Liberal Studies traditionally focused narrowly on the history, literature, and ideas of the ancient Greek and Roman peoples; the more recent trend is to offer an array of social science issues. In the case of the UAE, local students need courses that focus on ideas, achievements, and challenges in the Arab world. Students need to understand who they are in terms of their history. They also need a background in comparing and contrasting world ideas and cultures so that they can interact effectively in a globalized world. riculum, but with the advice of international consultants, HCT has chosen to follow international norms: humanities, social sciences, fine arts, science, mathematics, and core writing skills. Beginning in September 2009, the Liberal Studies stream will require that students complete a minimum of eight elective courses. Instruction in core writing skills is essential, as virtually all HCT students are native speakers of Arabic, operating in an ESL environment. These students require more support than native English speakers, both in the Liberal Studies is changing the way HCT students learn. 31

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2009

IIE Networker - Spring 2009
 Message from Allan E. Goodman
 IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series: Edward Guiliano, President of New York Institute of Technology
 Best Practices in International Education: 2009 Andrew Heiskell Awards
 HRH Princess Ghida Talal of Jordan Receives IIE Humanitarian Award
 Qatar's Outstanding Schools Initiative: A New Model for International Linkages in Education
 The Community College of Qatar: New Initiative to Meet Emergent National Educational and Labor Market Goals
 Toward a UAE Liberal Studies Stream
 New York University Abu Dhabi and the Research University as Global Network
 Expanding Education Abroad in the Arab World
 The Middle East as a Study Abroad Destination
 Student Flows from the Middle East: Iranian and Saudi Arabian Students in the United States
 The Desert as Meeting Place: Where Students from the Middle East and Around the World Come Together
 A Race to the Top: Helping Jordan Win the Right Race
 The Browser: Index of Advertisers
 IIE Program Profile: IIE's Work in the MENA Region

IIE Networker - Spring 2009