NYU Abu Dhabi Students Explore UAE and Beyond Through Distinctive January Term Studies

A view of an exterior of the New York University Abu Dhabi campus on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.

Press Release

Annual three-week study program designed to immerse students in an experiential educational journey around UAE and the globe

New York University Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) annual January Term (J-Term) is a unique study program that aims to intensify students’ intellectual focus and reach beyond the classroom. The program incorporates experiential learning, connecting students to the UAE, the Middle East, and a range of global destinations.

With a focus on exploring and interacting with various communities and cultures, J-Term offers an immersive three-week distinctive learning experience, through an academic program at sites around the world, from Abu Dhabi to Florence, to New York, and Sydney. With courses taught by renowned scholars, writers, artists, journalists, and policy analysts as well as distinguished professors from the NYU community, students learn first-hand about how our world is changing every single day while experiencing the rich diversity of NYU’s global network.

With over 70 courses offered to NYUAD students across 13 countries, the 2017 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; Green Mobility and Cities — with focus on Abu Dhabi and Dubai; Digital Diplomacy: Middle East and Nomads, among others. All courses are designed to intensify the students’ focus; reach beyond the classroom to incorporate experiential learning; and are often site-specific, connecting students to the place where they study.

NYU Abu Dhabi Associate Vice Chancellor, Global Education and Outreach and  Vice Provost Carol Brandt spoke about the three-week intensive program, saying: “Through J-Term, NYU Abu Dhabi aims to provide students with an exposure to the region — and beyond — that grants them opportunities for cross-cultural research and offers insights into complex, local, regional and 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 various communities, giving students more time for concentrated reflection on topics they value.”

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, has students 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 (Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE), and mountain chain (Musandam Peninsula and Jebel Akhdar, Oman). Learning takes 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, students have the opportunity to mix Emirati with Modern Standard Arabic during their stay with local host families. The course serves as a gateway to accessing intimate aspects of life, culture, and heritage of the Gulf region.

Green Mobility and Cities, taught by Instructor Robert Cervero, this course introduces students to the field of urban transportation planning and the host of public policy challenges it faces, given that most contemporary problems facing cities and regions —  congestion, pollution, employment opportunities, and even obesity — are in some way tied to urban transportation systems. The course aims to teach students the use of comparative frameworks and case studies to review and evaluate initiatives and innovations in urban transportation — with a focus on both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Digital Diplomacy, taught by Professor Tom Fletcher, will focus on the way that digital technology is reshaping how states interact and the building blocks of diplomacy. The course will look at the changes in the Middle East region in the last five years, particularly at the role played by digital technology, to give students a strong understanding of the real nature of diplomacy and international relations in the internet age. Professor Fletcher has served as the British Ambassador to Lebanon from 2011-15, and has been the Downing Street foreign policy adviser to three British Prime Ministers from 2007-2011.

Nomads, taught by Instructor David Darts, uses the lenses of philosophy, art, and design to examine the history, influence, and cultural underpinnings of nomadism and nomadic dwelling. The course includes a series of rich readings and film screenings that assist students to identify the influence of nomadism on a sedentary culture and society; and develop and produce designs inspired by mobile dwellings and nomadic life.

For more information on the J-Term, please visit the NYUAD website.

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.