Thursday, June 24, 2010

NYU in Abu Dhabi

I've blogged before about the problems of establishing and maintaining universities in places whose culture may be antagonistic to university culture.

NYU seems to be attacking that from an interesting angle in it's Abu Dhabi venture, the modal student will be an American: N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi Scours Globe for Top Students

Abu Dhabi " where N.Y.U. will open a campus in September with an inaugural freshman class of 150 students from 39 countries."..."Although the students come from 39 countries, with 43 languages, about a third are from the United States. The next four biggest sources are the United Arab Emirates, China, Hungary and Russia. "
"Backed by the open checkbook of the Abu Dhabi government, the wealthiest of the seven United Arab Emirates, N.Y.U. Abu Dhabi scoured the planet for candidates. It called on the Institute of International Education, which administers the Fulbright scholarships, to help it identify 900 of the world’s top high schools, and then pressed the schools for their best students.
Though based in Abu Dhabi, students will be encouraged to spend time at some of N.Y.U.’s 16 other sites, on five continents — more traditional study-abroad centers with short-term or narrowly focused programs. In a promotional booklet, the university sketched out a hypothetical plan for film and media majors, with sojourns in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Prague and New York.
The project carries risks. While Abu Dhabi is a relatively modern, multicultural Muslim state, homosexual acts are illegal and the Internet is censored. And there is no guarantee that the seemingly limitless resources of its oil-rich government will remain so, given the precarious global economy and Middle East politics.
But the Abu Dhabi government has agreed to pay for the entire N.Y.U. project, though neither it nor the university has detailed a price. And the emirate has embraced N.Y.U.’s vision of a liberal arts institution with full access to ideas, books and the Internet. "
"Some in the new freshman class, including Mr. Aqel, have already used Facebook to discuss a possible civil rights club. “In a way, it’s almost a challenge because we can’t hold protests,” Mr. Aqel said. “But I think we’ll be able to find creative ways to circumvent restrictions while maintaining respect for our host country.” "

You can pick up the thread of previous posts here: Universities and culture.

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