American University of Kuwait extends partnership with the College

by Ruben Gallardo | 5/22/18 2:30am

For at least the next five years, Dartmouth students will still have the opportunity to travel to and work at the American University of Kuwait. In a ceremony hosted by College President Phil Hanlon on Apr. 23, representatives from both Dartmouth and AUK signed a memorandum of understanding that extends the 15-year partnership between the two institutions for another five years.

The Dartmouth-AUK program debuted in 2003 and has since allowed both institutions to “enhance the liberal arts learning experience” on their respective campuses by offering collaborative opportunities to their students, faculty and staff, according to the program’s website. These opportunities include academic and administrative advisory projects, a summer term-long fellowship at Dartmouth for AUK faculty members and a cross-cultural internship program for students at both schools. Students at AUK can also participate in a dual-degree engineering program, where they study both at AUK and the Thayer School of Engineering.

The program currently only offers non-credit internship opportunities to Dartmouth students and AUK students that are not part of the dual-degree engineering program. However, starting in the fall of 2019, all students from both institutions will be able to participate in a for-credit academic exchange program that is currently under development, according to anthropology professor and relationship coordinator of the Dartmouth College-AUK program Dale Eickelman.

Since the establishment of the program and as of fall 2017, 34 Dartmouth students and 39 AUK students have participated in the internship program, according to the program’s website. The internship program assigns students to administrative jobs at the partner institution, but students also have the opportunity to assist a faculty member at the partner institution in their teaching and research.

AUK was established by a decree in 2003 as an “independent, private, equal opportunity and coeducational liberal arts institution of higher learning.” The structural model of AUK is based on the American model of higher learning, and courses are taught in English.

Eickelman said that the extension of the partnership between the two schools continues the legacy of Dartmouth faculty members who helped establish AUK — a liberal arts institution in an environment that is radically different from the U.S.

Eickelman noted that the program requires both institutions to renew the partnership agreement every five years, which provides the opportunity for both institutions to “gracefully” abandon the program if problems arise in the future.

“We are one of the few international, global [and] diverse experiential learning [programs] where it is the institution [abroad] that is paying [Dartmouth] for the opportunity [to establish a partnership],” Eickelman said.

Mary Versa Clemens-Sewall ’20, who participated in the internship program offered by the Dartmouth-AUK program in fall 2017, said that for her internship she assisted students taking English as a foreign language, tutored AUK students in mathematics and physics and provided professional development services to students working at the AUK tutoring center.

Clemens-Sewall noted that she was incentivized to apply to the internship program because she plans to minor in Arabic, and the location of AUK was convenient for her after she participated in an Arabic study abroad program in Morocco in summer 2017. She added that the non-credit aspect of the program also appealed to her since she was not interested in taking classes and wanted to do an internship abroad during her off-term.

“I think that the [Dartmouth-AUK partnership] is really important,” Clemens-Sewall said. “I made a lot of excellent friends in Kuwait. It was also an awesome location where I got to see myself in a professional capacity. I felt prepared [to step into that role] … because I was contributing to the university.”

During the summer term, the Dartmouth-AUK partnership brings AUK faculty members from a wide variety of academic disciplines to Dartmouth to engage in research and collaborate with other scholars, according to Eickelman.

He added that the Dartmouth-AUK program is also engaged in discussions with the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding to potentially develop a program focused on environmental studies of regions with extreme weather conditions, such as the Persian Gulf.

Dickey Center director Daniel Benjamin said that given the changing relations between the U.S. and the countries in the Persian Gulf, he believes it is important for the College to continue collaborating with institutions of higher learning in regions such as Kuwait.

“The Gulf is an enormously important part of the world right now — it has been for a while and it will continue to be,” Benjamin said. “Having spent some time at AUK in the winter … I think that [Dartmouth] would benefit greatly from a closer partnership.”

Correction appended (May 24, 2018): This article has been updated to properly introduce Dale Eickelman.