(From l. to r.: Jim Mienczakowski, Professor and Executive Director of Higher Education, Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC); Steinhardt Dean Mary Brabeck; His Excellency Hanif Hassan Al Qassimi, Minister of Education, Abu Dhabi; Mariet Westermann, Vice Chancellor for Regional Campus Development, NYU; Mugheer Khamis Al-Khaili, Director General, Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC)
In January, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development organized the first academic conference at the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, NYU’s current home for scholarly programming in Abu Dhabi. The conference, which drew participants from North America and the Middle East, convened around the topics of education, media, and human development.
Faculty members from Steinhardt, the Faculty of Arts and Science, and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service were joined by scholars from peer institutions to discuss such issues as teacher development, educational assessment, economics of education, and media and civil society. Participants also included NYU trustee Courtney Sale Ross; His Excellency Dr. Hanif Hassan Al Qassimi, Minister of Education, Abu Dhabi; and Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al-Khaili, Director General, Abu Dhabi Education Council.
In her opening remarks to the group, Steinhardt dean Mary Brabeck noted that “the questions raised and, we hope, answers found at the conference will be part of our global hope for understanding knowledge generation, for collaboration across continents and peoples, and, perhaps, even for peace.”
Over three days, conference members participated in a number of panel discussions and paper presentations, as well as conducted site visits to the Abu Dhabi Education Council, Emirates College for Advanced Education, the Center of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, Abu Dhabi Media Company, and The National, a major English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates.
James Kemple, executive director of NYU’s Research Alliance for New York City Schools and a conference presenter, said “the success of the conference—and the overall success of NYU Abu Dhabi—is likely to hinge on the commitment and the capacity for teaching and learning to occur in all directions. At the conference I saw an openness to that process.”
The conference culminated in a public event, “In the Public Eye: Media and Civil Society in the Arab World,” where journalists and editors-in-chief from the region came together with scholars to discuss the fast-paced transformations taking place in Arab media.
In addition to the faculty and administrators who attended the conference, sixteen members of the NYU Steinhardt Jazz Orchestra, led by David Schroeder, director of Jazz Studies, travelled to Abu Dhabi not only to perform at the conference, but also to conduct master classes at the American Community School. The orchestra played to a packed house of student, parents and teachers of the school.
“We discovered first hand that music is a powerful language that has the ability to break down cultural walls,” said Schroeder. “We were truly honored to promote good will toward others, discovering that we received as much as we gave.”