August 12, 2013
Last June, Colorado State University was selected by three national professional associations to serve as the academic partner for an international student affairs study tour to the Arabian Gulf- Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Oscar Felix (pictured) served as faculty leader providing the curriculum through the Global Perspectives in Student Affairs and Services course from the Student Affairs in Higher Education, or SAHE, Master's Program.
Felix is an assistant professor in the SAHE Program, and is the executive director for the access center with a new appointment as associate vice president for diversity and associate vice president - Division of Enrollment and Access.
Twenty-two participants from Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, Barbados, and the United States studied the uniqueness of higher education and student affairs approaches in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. These Arabian Gulf nations are seeking to transition from a carbon-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Qatar, in particular, plans to accomplish this goal by 2030, with higher education as a major area of focus. Student affairs and student services have been recognized as a key component in student success and the need for professional development and credentials for student affairs staff.
Participants toured and engaged faculty and students at Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Qatar University in Qatar and Zayed University, United Arab Emirates University, New York University Abu Dhabi, and the Institute of Applied Technology in the United Arab Emirates. Major topics covered on the study tour included: the U.S./western higher education model and how it fits into Islamic/Arabian Gulf nations; building capacity for a post carbon-based economy; gender, religion, and co-educational approaches; and the labor challenge. Two of the participants had the following observations:
I came home with new eyes and extra colors in my pallet due to the experiential nature of the excursion, the conversations with the participants, and the knowledge that I must always learn more.
I learned so much from having conversations with the women students, listening to their perspective, answering questions about the group, education, and what impressed me about their country.
Felix delivered a presentation entitled "Today's College Student" at the Institute of Applied Technology in Abu Dhabi that served as the basis for roundtable discussions between study tour participants and IAT staff leading to substantive discussions on student life issues, approaches, and overall challenges facing IAT and Emirati students today.
The three organizing associations, NASPA (student affairs); ACUI (college unions); and ACUHO-I (housing and residence life), selected Colorado State University because of its established relationship in the gulf region, particularly with the Qatar Foundation based in Doha, Qatar.
Contact: Gretchen Gerding