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Presidential symposium highlights the humanities at AUB
1/18/2017
Jennifer Muller  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
Presidential symposium highlights the humanities at AUB
What is the relevance of humanities education? Why is it important for all AUB students to take humanities courses? What is the future of the humanities at AUB?  These and other provocative questions were the focus of a presidential symposium, “The Humanities at AUB: Building Better Futures from the Inside Out," held to mark the launch of BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate & Serve.

This fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in the University's history, is all about ensuring that AUB continues to be the premier educational institution in the region.  To launch the campaign, President Khuri called on Dean Nadia El Cheikh of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) to prepare a symposium highlighting the humanities and its fundamental role in AUB's academic mission.

A full crowd in Bathish Auditorium spent the morning listening to current students, alumni, and department chairs expound and reflect on the humanities.  Panelists shared their personal experiences, combatted popular misconceptions, and discussed why humanities education is critical in the modern world.

To start off each of the panels, there were MCs from two of AUB's professional schools: Dean of the Suliman Olayan School of Business (OSB), Dr. Steve Harvey, and Associate Dean at the Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Kamal Badr.  Interim Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (FEA), Dr. Alan Shihadeh, and OSB Assistant Professor, Dr. Lina Daouk, also participated as moderators, underscoring how the humanities are important to students in all the schools and faculties of AUB, not just FAS.

The first panel was entitled “Inside the Humanities: Leadership and Innovation." Groups of department chairs, students, and alumni rotated on and off the stage, talking about humanities education and research and the worth of a degree in the humanities. Rola Hoteit, the first and only female pilot at the Middle East Airlines (MEA), spoke about why she decided to return to AUB to pursue her master's degree in Philosophy. Other students and alumni spoke about the difficulty of convincing friends and family members that majoring in one of the humanities is not a “waste of time" and that, on the contrary, the skills and habits of mind that the humanities impart can help greatly in many professional settings.

The second panel explored how the humanities play a vital role in preparing students to become citizen scholars by developing their intellectual, ethical, and civic capacities.  Panelists included Tunisian writer Roua Seghaier reading from her award-winning novel; Joumana Talhouk and Makram Rabah talking about social and political activism; and former minister Sami Haddad and former UN professional Yasmin Shafei speaking on how the humanities prepare people for real-world success.

In both panels, the chairs of humanities departments spoke about their current programs, the impactful research being done in the humanities, and their plans for the future.

The conversations were diverse and the quick pace of the format allowed for the sharing of interesting stories and information about the role and importance of humanities education. Dean El Cheikh ended the symposium with a call for support; to sustain and support the humanities at AUB for the good of the University, and for the good of the world outside AUB's walls. 

Sahar Assaf, theater director and assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts and Art History, staged the direction, which allowed for intimate and congenial conversations among the panelists. Interspersed between the discussion groups were a number of engaging videos prepared by Tamara Maatouk, a graduate student in the Department of History and Archaeology. ​
Story Highlights
  • ​​What is the relevance of humanities education? Why is it important for all AUB students to take humanities courses? What is the future of the humanities at AUB?  These and other provocative questions were the focus of a presidential symposium, “The Humanities at AUB: Building Better Futures from the Inside Out," held to mark the launch of BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate & Serve.
 
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