January Term 2019: Beyond the Classroom

The annual three-week January Term (J-Term) gives students access to over 80 courses in 24 destinations across the world

Press Release

NYU Abu Dhabi students are set to embark on an exceptional global education experience as part of the annual January Term (J-Term) – a unique, immersive offering where students take one course full-time for approximately three weeks.

Over 80 courses will be offered to 1,200 students this January across 24 destinations including Greece, Italy, London, Singapore, India, Morocco, Djibouti, and Jordan, among several others.

Courses by faculty from NYUAD, NYU, and other prestigious global universities such as Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of California, Berkeley are also being offered this J-Term.

In a Class of Their Own

Throughout the term, students will have access to prominent visiting faculty and scholars including:

  • Anthony Geffen, BAFTA and Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker
  • Frank Luntz, American political consultant
  • Spencer Wells, renowned geneticist and anthropologist 

Each J-Term, students go beyond the classroom to experience academic concepts through hands-on field research in the UAE, Middle East, and the world, allowing them to explore and engage with the global academic community of which they are a part. It is a unique study program that allows students to spend more time for concentrated study on a dedicated topic.

Vice Provost and Associate Vice Chancellor of Global Education and Outreach at NYUAD Carol Brandt

J-Term Course Highlights

Immersive Storytelling, and the art of making the virtual, a reality

Faculty: BAFTA and Emmy award winning documentary filmmaker Anthony Geffen
Course location: London

This course explores how immersive technologies (Augmented, Virtual, and Mixed Reality) are transforming storytelling and how new business models are emerging to support a fast moving and constantly disrupted and disrupting sector. Through classwork, field trips, and exposure to industry leaders and world class storytellers, students will experience first-hand how new storytelling structures are being created and developed incrementally through an ongoing conversation with disciplines across film, television, theatre, game design, and experiential marketing. The course will be led by Geffen and supported by former Creative Director of Digital at the BBC, Will Saunders.

Language of Business

Faculty: American political consultant Frank Luntz
Course location: Abu Dhabi

This course will use case-studies to teach students how to identify and apply the most effective business language and communication techniques in real-world settings. Comparatively little focus has been directed towards the development of business language and the role of messaging in the corporate world. Because this is a J-Term class, the emphasis will be less on scholarly texts and more on the fundamentals of public communication in the real world, with a focus on what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Human Prehistory: A Unified Approach

Faculty: Geneticist, anthropologist and author Spencer Wells
Course location: Oman

Recent advances in genetics have led to a new understanding of the history of our species, but genetic data only make sense in the context of other fields of study. Paleoanthropology, archaeology, linguistics, geology, and climatology all contribute to our understanding of how our species evolved and spread around the world. This course will start at the beginning, with the very earliest evidence of our species in the fossil record in Africa and Asia. Class work will be supplemented by computational analyses of the students’ own DNA, and a field trip to Oman to visit one of the richest Paleolithic archaeological sites in the Arabian Peninsula.

Cultural Heritage in Conflict Zones and the Responsibility to Protect

Faculty: Chief Executive Officer and President at The J. Paul Getty Trust Inc. Jim Cuno
Course location: New York

Palmyra was one of the great cities of antiquity. For almost two thousand years, its physical remains stood as proud beacons of earlier times. Then suddenly, with the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, much of the ancient city was purposely damaged or destroyed. So too were the Great Mosque of Aleppo and the medieval mausoleums and Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu, Mali. This course will explore the reasons cultural heritage has been the target of attacks in recent times and what might be done to protect them. It will consider existing international conventions and statutes and a proposed new international norm. Other topics will include the role of the UN, state sovereignty, humanitarian intervention, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), and counterinsurgency. Visits to the Metropolitan Museum and a group lunch will be included.

Water, Energy, Food Nexus

Faculty: Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of Engineering Academic Laboratories at NYUAD Philip Panicker, and Global Professor of Practice of Civil Engineering at NYUAD Sanjiv Gokhale
Course location: Abu Dhabi

Billions of people on earth lack adequate access to water, food, and energy. What might be gained by recognizing the interdependencies that exist between these resources? Moreover, it is clear that energy is required to produce and distribute water and food: to pump water, to power irrigation machinery, and to process and transport agricultural goods. But a global society requires industry and policymakers to take even broader views. For instance, how are water security, energy security, and food security linked, so that actions in one area will likely have impacts in one or both of the others? How will population growth, economic development, and climate change affect international efforts to eradicate poverty? Additionally, what roles might renewable energy technologies play in providing access to cost-effective, secure, and sustainable energy supplies? Students will approach these questions through multidisciplinary lenses and cultivate the skills required to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges posed by the water-energy-food nexus. This course will also feature guest lectures by UAE Minister of State for Food Security Her Excellency Mariam Al Mehairi.

Islamic Architecture: Formation to Revival

Faculty: Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT Nasser Rabbat
Course location: Jordan

From the House of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Medina in the seventh century to the high-rises of Dubai today, this course casts architecture as the most expressive embodiment of the historical conditions within which Islam was formed and acquired meaning, and to which it in turn gave form and context. Spanning fifteen centuries and three continents, the course focuses on key episodes from the foundational moments of an Islamic architecture in Arabia and the territories of the major cultures of Antiquity with which Islam came in contact, to the interaction with the West in the age of colonialism, independence, development, and the consequent revival of Islamic architecture today. The course is primarily an introductory overview. Possible field trips will include the Byzantine and Umayyad sites in Jordan, Louvre Abu-Dhabi, NYUAD campus, and select historically-inspired buildings in the UAE.

City in Crisis: Refuge and Resilience

Faculty: Global Distinguished Professor in Environmental Studies and Public Policy at NYU New York and affiliated faculty at NYUAD Sophia Kalantzakos
Course location: Greece

By 2030, sixty percent of the world's population will be living in cities; in fact the majority will be living in megacities. This transformation of urban space is a result of migration from rural areas and across international borders and it presents unprecedented challenges for planners, policy makers, businesses, educators, citizens, migrants/refugees, and the environment. This course will explore the multifaceted challenges that confront cities around the world because, while many programs and policies are local, cities are interconnected and part of a global system. Through their readings, students will question the notions of a contemporary city and examine how crisis and revitalization complement each other, especially in the light of current population movements that will only increase with climate change and the ongoing violence of war. During a week-long regional trip, Athens, Greece will serve as a case study of a vibrant historical capital now faced with an unprecedented economic crisis, high unemployment, a large number of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and economic migrants from as far away as Myanmar.

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.