Northwestern U. to Open Journalism School in Qatar

November 07, 2007

Northwestern University announced today that it would open a branch campus for journalism and communication studies in the tiny Arab emirate of Qatar.

Starting in the fall of 2008, the School of Communication and the Medill School of Journalism will offer programs in journalism, media and integrated marketing communication, and media industries and technologies. The programs will culminate in the first degrees to be conferred by Northwestern away from its main campus, in Evanston, Ill. Administrators hope to enroll about 40 students in the first year.

The branch campus comes to a region that is characterized by low-quality journalism and has traditionally struggled with government censorship. Qatar itself has been a leader in promoting independent journalism in the region, having started the groundbreaking satellite-based news channel Al-Jazeera in 1996.

The Medill program will offer courses in journalism ethics, law, and professional practices in addition to standard writing and editing classes, and students will spend 25 percent of their time in the United States and in foreign newsrooms. The School of Communication’s program will offer tracks in cinema and television as well.

Northwestern will join outposts of other American universities, such as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Georgetown, Texas A&M, and Virginia Commonwealth, that have opened in Qatar’s Education City over the past few years.

The Northwestern announcement followed similar deals signed this fall between Abu Dhabi and New York University, as well as Michigan State and Dubai. Many observers call the deal making a regional game of one-upmanship in which rich countries on the shores of the Persian Gulf are using their oil wealth to buy prestige through marquee universities. —Zvika Krieger