SFS-Qatar: “Huge mistake” or valuable, unique addition?

Members of SFS-Q’s first graduating class

Awhile ago, Fear and Loathing Georgetown, a blog maintained by an anonymous School of Foreign Service grad, posted a rant about how Georgetown creating SFS-Qatar was “a huge mistake.”

The main points were that Qatar doesn’t offer the same academic quality as the main campus, and that students there aren’t exposed to Georgetown’s real campus culture. There are also complaints that SFS-Q is “a glorified finishing school for the royalty of Qatar and the surrounding Gulf States.”

After lying dormant for awhile, a current SFS-Q student happened to find the post and left a passionate response, reigniting the debate.

In his response, the SFS-Q student argues that while the culture at SFS-Q is different from that of the main campus, most students spend some time in D.C. during their college career and SFS-Q offers opportunities—like Service Learning trips—that the main campus doesn’t.

Not content to the disagreement lie, Fear and Loathing Georgetown posted its own lengthy rejoinder, attempting to rebut the claims made by the SFS-Q student and sticking to its original diagnosis of the school.

But what say you?

4 Comments on “SFS-Qatar: “Huge mistake” or valuable, unique addition?

  1. I get the point of this post, but I think it’s a mistake (and not simply because the poll is either a Yes or No – where’s the I really don’t know enough about SFSQ to say? Particularly when you’re positing this to the whole university and not just the SFS, for instance).

    I took one of the video conferencing classes and went to Qatar last year, and while yes, it is different, and yes, it has some problems, there are plenty of positives (and many of them come from its very location, the funding and the structure of the school – wouldn’t we all like trips to areas of conflict/peace as part of our courses? They’ve gone to Palestine, Rwanda, Tanzanzia, Northern Ireland, etc….on the school’s dime no less!).

    You’d be better served by doing more in depth articles about SFSQ, building relationships between students on both sides, and limiting the who’s better? debates and do we really want them? debates that people like the FLG blogger seem to enjoy. Other schools have satellite campuses but I somehow doubt they call for them to be closed (let’s think about Univ. of Wash. in St. Louis, its Madrid Campus).

    The initial blogger has a highly mistaken view of what SFS-Q is and how it functions. I’d recommend going over and seeing it. I have my criticisms, but those have less to do with the students and its structure and more to do with the arrogant perspective certain Deans over there have of their opportunity and their relation to main campus (ask the SFS deans’ office…there are some interesting stories to be heard).

  2. “You’d be better served by doing more in depth articles about SFSQ, building relationships between students on both sides, and limiting the who’s better? debates and do we really want them? debates that people like the FLG blogger seem to enjoy.”

    Just to clarify, it’s not about whether the students are better or not. It’s a simple matter that you can’t transplant the Hilltop to Qatar even with generous funding. If we can’t bring the community that exists on the Hilltop to Doha, then are the students there actually receiving a Georgetown undergraduate education? As I wrote in my original post, this is less important for graduate school then undergrad. However, I see no evidence that the administration is going to bring graduate education to Qatar. My guess is that this would be over concerns about maintaining the quality of the program over there.

    Perhaps the students in Qatar are fantastically qualified. Perhaps they are getting an awesome education. I honestly don’t know. Nevertheless, I know they aren’t getting an educational experience remotely like what happens with SFS’ers on the Hilltop.

  3. “Nevertheless, I know they aren’t getting an educational experience remotely like what happens with SFS’ers on the Hilltop.”

    Fair enough, but I’d be against the argument that that invalidates the experiment and that the campus should not be there. The students have the right to build their own community, and to be called Hoyas; it’s a different system but that’s not something we can change. You could take it to a different level and say that the SFS experience is not equivalent to the MSB one, so why call them part of the same school anyway? (And we all know it’s not, other than the community aspect of the campus itself, but academically speaking it’s quite different).

    There’s no right answer to this one.

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