J-Term 2022: Four Exciting UAE-based Courses

J-Term Classes 2022 see students engage in highly immersive learning experiences around the UAE.

From The Louvre Abu Dhabi to an architectural walk to highlight Abu Dhabi’s unique urban planning, students are back in the field and connecting with learning experiences that intensify their focus and reach beyond the classroom.

The J-Term 2022 courses, of which there are 44 taking place in the UAE, have also seen industry giants, thought leaders, and inspiring speakers come to campus to enrich classroom experiences further. 

Intellectually linked to their locations, the courses take advantage of local resources; explore the history, culture, economy, and society of the host communities, and often involve collaborative activities with local students and faculty. The courses illuminate the interdependence of local knowledge and global awareness while fostering cross-cultural research and insights into complex global issues.

Here is a selection of some of the classes taking place during J-Term, which is taking place in May and June, this year.

Arabia Felix, The Imagined Land of Happiness: 

Between the myths of shipwrecked sailors and the history of camel caravans transporting frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the archaeological expeditions at the crossroads of the Empty Quarter, “Arabia Felix"—a name given to the southern Arabian Peninsula by Classical historians, meaning "Happy" and "Fortunate"—has captivated the minds of ancient and modern-day explorers. 

But what is Arabia Felix? 

Why, after this imagined place has enlightened and eluded so many according to its myths, is it still identified today as the land of happiness, the land of builders? Where is the source of Arabia’s happiness at the intersection of its myth and history? 

In this seminar taught by William Zimmerle, students will explore the idea of Arabia Felix inside Abu Dhabi, where oil has developed a prosperous cultural-heritage, religiously tolerant, ecotourism landscape. 

By learning to read accounts of travelers, archaeologists, expatriates, politicians, clergy and poets, the aim is to produce interdisciplinary essays on Arabia today. Site visits include the LouvreAD, Zayed Museum, Abrahamic Family House, ADNOC and DCT, the Mangrove National Park, Al Shindagha, the MBR Space Centre, and the Ministry of Happiness.

Art Markets:

This class explores the production, sale, display and exchange of works of art, and the patrons, artists and collectors who participate in this economic, social and political form of cultural production and aesthetic valuation. 

While students will learn about global art patrons, Associate Professor of Art History Cheryl Finley will direct student's focus on the creation of art markets in the Middle East in the 20th and 21st Century. 

Case studies will explore patterns of transportation, exchange and trade; interactions of collectors, critics and curators; contexts of contemporary collections; new museum architecture; auction houses and commercial galleries; and cultural heritage theft and restitution. 

Special attention will be paid to the emergence of the contemporary art market in the Middle East via cultural revolution, technological innovation, political conflict, energy markets and global competition. Global art markets in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas will be discussed alongside Middle Eastern institutions such as art fairs, art foundations, artists’ collectives, and museums.

The Gulf: A 21st Century Hub for Finance, Trade and Energy:

With rapidly changing regional dynamics spotlighting the Indian Ocean, the UAE is positioned to become a mainstream emerging market player. The UAE has for the past decade given policy priority to deepen finance, investment, and trade links along the Silk Road, most notably with the world’s two largest emerging markets China and India.  

The UAE’s credible response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its ties with nations, can fast-track its role as global emerging market hub for finance, trade, energy, and technology start-ups. This class has included several high-profile guest speakers, including Sheikha Lubna Khalid Al Qasimi, the UAE's first female minister who was previously the minister of state for tolerance, minister of state for international cooperation, and minister of cconomic and planning.

Taught by John Deftarious, the former CNN Business emerging markets editor, this J-Term course will explore aspirations to go beyond being an oil exporter to the world and augment a greater role for the broader MENA region. This three-week intensive course will explore how a small federation of ten million people has created market access to over two billion people at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Well-Being and the Design of the Built Environment:

COVID-19 has challenged what we take for granted in our daily lives.  Even before the pandemic, there was plenty of evidence that the design of our cities, neighborhoods and buildings shapes our health and well-being. Drawing on approaches from public health, urban planning, architectural design, sociology, psychology and neuroscience, students will be challenged to think beyond the confines of a single discipline. 

A social justice framework guides the analysis of technical issues. The insights  gained will benefit future designers, but also those who choose careers as policy makers and health practitioners; who employ architects for residential and workplace projects; and who, as citizens and activists, hope to make the places in which they live, work and relax better for everyone.

Taught by Cynthia Myntti, Readings include case studies from Europe and North America, and new research from the Gulf. 

Students will learn through interactive lectures and classroom discussions and debates; the screening of documentary films and TED talks; one small ethnographic project on campus; a field visit in Abu Dhabi; a close analysis of their own university campus; and a design project on Saadiyat Island.