Liberal Arts at NU-Q to see boost with appointment of first Program Director
- Qatar: Monday, July 02 - 2012 at 14:10
In a move to further boost the school's expanding liberal arts offering, Northwestern University in Qatar has chosen a leading voice on cultural studies and expressive arts to be the first director of its Liberal Arts Program.
Dr. Richards' expertise, and her career at Northwestern University, extends across four academic disciplines. She served as chair of African American Studies and interim director of the Program of African Studies at Northwestern's Weinberg College of Liberal Arts, as well as a professor of performance studies and theater in the School of Communication.
In announcing Dr. Richards' appointment, NU-Q Dean Dr. Everette Dennis noted that "her background as a distinguished scholar and teacher in four fields makes her the perfect choice to head NU-Q's growing Liberal Arts Program."
"She will provide the kind of intellectual leadership that will benefit both faculty and students while also continuing her own research and teaching," Dean Dennis added.
Students in communication and journalism at NU-Q are expected to take substantial work in the liberal arts, with journalism students being required to take up to 75% of their coursework in the associated fields and disciplines.
Before joining Northwestern University, Dr. Richards earned her Ph.D. in Dramatic Literature from Stanford University, and held teaching and research positions at Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Benin in Nigeria.
Commenting on her NU-Q appointment, Dr. Richards says she is most looking forward to serving as a bridge between constituencies at the campuses in Doha and Evanston, Illinois. "I think it is very important for students in the U.S. to develop a more expansive understanding of the world, and I hope to help contribute to that process by facilitating exchange between students at our two branches," she says, adding that she hopes to provide a similar link between faculty at NU-Q and Northwestern's home campus.
In addition to her functions as professor and administrator, Dr. Richards is interested in using the tools she has developed in Diaspora studies to learn more about the diverse expatriate populations living in Doha. "On my last visit, I was intrigued by a student who said, 'I am Palestinian, but I have never lived in Palestine.' I believe certain aspects of my studies on dispersed African populations around the world can be applied to communities here," she says.
A respected and renowned scholar, Dr. Richards was honored by a celebratory academic conference at the University of California, Berkeley in June 2010, titled "Performance and the Public Sphere: A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Sandra L. Richards."
Among her other honors, Dr. Richards held the Leon Forrest professorship in African American Studies and won an outstanding teaching award from the Association for Theater in Higher Education. She also won the Rockefeller Fellowship in the Black Performing Arts at Stanford University, and is co-editor of the MLA Handbook of Approaches to Teaching the Plays of August.
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