Students Explore UAE and Beyond in Experiential January Term Studies

Students in Shanghai, China, for the J-Term course Food and Drugs in Chinese History with Professor Joanna Waley-Cohen. Christy Maksoudian, Class of 2015

Annual three-week study program designed to immerse students in distinctive learning experiences around the globe

Press Release

New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) students are embarking on the annual January Term (J-Term) study program, with an increased focus in exploring, through an immersive three-week experience, issues relevant to the UAE, the Middle East, and the global agenda. With courses taught by renowned scholars, writers, artists, journalists, and policy analysts as well as distinguished professors from NYU New York and NYUAD, J-Term offers distinctive learning experiences in ten countries, including the UAE.

With over 50 courses offered to NYUAD students, the 2016 J-Term program places a strong focus on the Arab world, including courses such as: Oasis, Coast and Mountain: Landscapes of History and Culture in the UAE and Oman; Colloquial Arabic: Emirati Dialect; Arab Crossroads in China; and Cities and Modern Arabic Literature, among others. All of the courses are designed to intensify the student's focus; reach beyond the classroom to incorporate experiential learning; and are often site-specific, connecting students to the place where they study.

Carol Brandt, Associate Vice Chancellor, Global Education and Outreach, said of the three-week intensive format: “Taking a single course during January Term allows students more time for concentrated reflection on a dedicated topic, providing opportunities for cross-cultural research and offering insights into complex, global issues. J-Term courses are also intellectually linked to their locations, taking advantage of local resources, exploring the history, culture, economy and society of the host community, and illuminating opportunities for collaboration.”

Oasis, Coast and Mountain: Landscapes of History and Culture in the UAE and Oman, taught by visiting Professor of Anthropology, Steven Caton, and visiting Professor of Comparative History, Donald Scott, asks students to challenge the preconceptions of Arabian landscapes as mainly desert by exploring three distinct ecological zones in relation to each other: oasis (Al Ain, UAE), maritime coast (Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, UAE), and mountain chain (Jebel Akhdar, Oman). Learning will take place as a moveable intellectual experience across the two countries through lectures, fieldwork in key sites, and activities to get an embodied sense for these zones.
Colloquial Arabic: Emirati Dialect, taught by Senior Arabic Language Instructor, Nasser Isleem, builds on students' prior knowledge of Modern Standard Arabic, while introducing them to the unique aspects that make the Emirati dialect so lively and distinctive. Taught in the oasis city of Al Ain, where students stay with local host families, the course serves as a gateway to accessing intimate aspects of life, culture, and heritage of the Gulf region.

Arab Crossroads in China, taught in Shanghai by Professor of History, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, will immerse students in the lives and culture of the Arab merchant communities that settled in China from the early days of Islam until the early modern period.

Cities and Modern Arabic Literature will use fiction as a tool for students to visit (figuratively) five cities: Cairo, Alexandria, Beirut, Haifa, and Baghdad. The novels used in the course form guides in order to understand the multiple layers of a city, and to build knowledge about the relationship between literature and social life. NYU Global Distinguished Professor of Modern Arabic Literature Elias Khoury, a Lebanese novelist, playwright, and critic, teaches the course.

Other popular courses include: Theatre in the Arab World, Future of Medicine, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and State and Fate of the Earth, among many others.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.