Archive for the ‘Curriculum’ Category

It’s no secret that the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan includes a heavy push to develop a UAE national workforce in the engineering and technology sectors, and not a week goes by without seeing an article in one of the newspapers like the one in today’s National:

Technology -oriented schools to grow enrolment

True, the tech-savviness of a nation has a substantial role to play in its global competitiveness (see my earlier post), but every so often I want to hear about someone valuing a non-technical degree.  Today I got my wish.

Not one, but two (two!) articles have appeared in The National this week highlighting academic curricula that prepare students for careers in fields that don’t include the word ‘engineering’:

On 17 May, the Sorbonne was reported to be offering master’s programmes in museum studies and archive studies here in Abu Dhabi, as well as an upcoming graduate programme in the performing arts. (Unfortunately, the Sorbonne should probably be offering a degree in web design, or at least hire someone competent, as its site is by far the least user-friendly on the local academic scene.)  But web snafus aside, it’s refreshing to see this non-technical (and highly relevant, given the Saadiyat Island Cultural District Master Plan) academic opportunity here in Abu Dhabi.

The second piece, in today’s The National, reports on the 22 students in Zayed University’s Diplomatic Academy (rather unfindable on the Zayed U site, but one can read about it, and other ZU intitiatives, here).  Again, I find it heartening — particularly when I read words like “wide range of skills” and “broad knowledge base.”

Amid my growing concerns about higher education being turned into little more than a trade school, these words, if they’re to be taken seriously, are music to an academic’s ears.


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Lost in translation?

On 3 April, 2010, the National ran the following:

Sorbonne Abu Dhabi overhauls its bachelor’s degree programme

This doesn’t seem like very earth-shattering news, at least from the headline, as I’m sure the overhauling of degree programmes is a pretty routine thing.  But something struck me as a little weird.

According to the article, the executive director of Sorbonne Abu Dhabi said “subjects such as history, philosophy, literature and art history would merge, beginning in the autumn.  The curriculum will remain unchanged.”


First of all, how do we ‘merge’ history, philosophy, literature, and art history?  Do we eliminate a bunch of 101 courses in each discipline and create a brand new course called History, Philosophy, Literature, and Art History 101?  Second, how do we do this without changing the curriculum?  Third, how do we merge these courses and still maintain bachelor’s programmes in the following — all of which continue to be described in detail on the Sorbonne-Abu Dhabi’s website?

  • Archeology/History of Art
  • French/Comparative Literature
  • History – Civilization and International Affairs
  • Philosophy/Sociology

Or perhaps we merge the four programmes completely into one?

I wonder how they say ‘bachelor of all trades, master of none’ in French?

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