12 December 2021

The Only of Its Kind in Palestine, AQB Launches Social Thought, Economy, and Policy Program

The Only of Its Kind in Palestine, 
AQB Launches Social Thought, Economy, and Policy Program

Al-Quds Bard College has launched the only program of its kind in Palestine, Social Thought, Economy, and Policy (STEP) on Sunday, 28th, 2021 with a vibrant launch party that took place at AQB. The event was attended by AQB Dean Dr. Daniel Terris, who opened the event and introduced the panel of speakers, which consisted of AQB Assistant Vice President for Finance and Administration, Dr. Sameh Hallaq, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Issa Manasrah, the Head of the Human Rights Program, Dr. Jana Lozanoska, the Head of the STEP Program, Dr. Sobhi Samour, and the Acting Head of the Political Science Program, Dr. Amneh Badran. The STEP program will combine economics, politics and philosophy into one program. Students will acquire knowledge and critical thinking skills to develop innovative solutions for pressing policy challenges in Palestine, the region and the world. 

In his opening remarks, Dr. Terris congratulated AQB students, staff, and faculty on the milestone of creating a new program that addresses an urgent need in the Palestinian academic arena, and provides a valuable skill setfor the Palestinian job market. According to Dr. Terris, “with the launch of STEP, we are excited that our program is connected to Al-Quds University, where AQB students will learn from professors and scholars from various fields in the social sciences. This program is a gateway to many higher education programs for students who are interested in pursuing their postgraduate studies.” 

Dr. Sobhi Samour gave a presentation outlining the purpose behind the program and what students are expected to study in it. He stated that “STEP is for students who are interested in politics and economics, who value critical thinking and have a commitment for social justice.”

Using the problem of global and local inequality as an example to illustrate the advantage of STEP, Dr. Samour explained how inequality has many causes, and would therefore require an understanding and approach to solving it derived from more than just one perspective. STEP will empower students to understand the world and ask the right questions rather than provide simple solutions. As Dr. Amneh Badran added, “we are here not to give you an answer, but to trigger your mind to think about questions you have not considered before.”  

STEP would be offering 40 core credits divided over ten courses that interested students must take in order to finish the major requirement. In addition, STEP would offer courses through the Open Society University Network (OSUN), where AQB students cantake courses with scholars, professors, and students across the network that includes more than forty universities and colleges around the globe. 

Dr. Samour expressed that the quality of the program and the type of courses offered in it would make AQB students, who graduate from it, valuable and attractive to the job market inPalestine. Given the variety of skills STEP offers, graduates could work in institutions such as international organizations and non-profit organizations, the public as well as the private sectors. The latterencompasses banks, consultancy firms and research institutions.    

Dr. Sameh Hallaq emphasized the great value STEP can deliver for the next generation of leaders in civil society organizations, economic and political organizations. He stated that STEP graduates will “understand how the economy, policies, philosophies, and social structures are set in a certain way by studying how these areas intersect with each other. The interdisciplinary nature of the program will help students to develop innovative policy solutions that incorporate political, social, and economic realities.” He also added that “understanding a problem from different perspectives is the most effective way to solving it.”

Dr. Issa Manasrah congratulated AQB on this new program, stating said that STEP “provides an outstanding addition to already existing programs at AQB, but with the added benefit that it goes beyond explanations provided in traditional disciplines.”STEP will prepare young professionals to identify social, economic, and political problems and develop comprehensive policy solutions for them.” Dr. Manasrah highlighted that STEP will close an important gap in the labor market as all public and private organizations in Palestine seek employees who are able develop innovative and comprehensive strategies. In an increasingly fast moving world, STEP will train students in problem-solving approaches to tackle complex policy challenges.

AQB will open admissions for the STEP program starting from the Spring 2022. AQB students who are still unmoderated will also be able to major in STEP if they fulfill the necessary conditions.