in trimester two (January 3rd to March 15th, 2015), CILAS is offering eight thematic courses: two per field of study. Thematic courses are of a duration of ten weeks with two class hours and at least four individual study hours per week. They are open to non-degree seeking students, i.e. anyone. To ensure that non-degree seekers meet the pre-requisites degree-seekers satisfy by completing the core curriculum, non-degree seekers are asked to complete an application form. Classes are scheduled both in the morning from 10 am to noon and in the evening from 5 pm to 7 pm. To learn more, see here. The infograph below provides an overview of the thematic courses on offer.
while the above is worth no less than a thousand words, please read an account of CILAS' first exchange trip to Berlin written by the young gentleman with the red hair, otherwise known as Fayez.
in late August of 2014, a group of five CILASians - myself included - headed to Berlin to attend a conference as part of an exchange program with scholars of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung. After a period of almost seven months of phone and Skype calls, we were at last united with our exchange partners in Berlin. We all concluded that this trip was an eye-opening experience.
expectations on the plane
since our selection to participate in the exchange program in January 2014, we have been discussing different socio-cultural issues in both Cairo and Berlin with our German counterparts. We came to understand that there are similarities between the two cities; similarities that include youth unemployment, the rise of entrepreneurialism and street art. How these similarities manifest themselves is what we came to discover.
visits in Berlin
during our stay in Berlin we were eager to learn more about those Berliners hanging out in cafés; mingled with them and explored alternative lifestyles. We visited a number of parks, including Tempelhofer Park and Tiergarten. Moreover, we attended a lecture at the Bundestag on the history of the building. We then went to the headquarters of Heinrich Böll Stiftung where we were introduced to the eco-friendly design of the building.
towards the end of our stay, we hosted a conference as to share our reflections on post-revolutionary trends regarding education, student movements, entrepreneurship and the media. German coffee helped us introduce ourselves in relation to different spaces across Cairo reflecting on different facets of our identity. We concluded the two-day conference with an Egyptian cooking session.
back on the plane
we, as un-usual, fell asleep on the plane to Egypt. To be fair, our eyes were so widely opened that we really needed to nap. There is one thing we are all sure of which is that our plans for the future have changed a little a bit.
it has been 55 days since the first year students' graduation ceremony and 30 days until the beginning of the second academic year at CILAS. A result of this extended break is this blog which is meant to serve as a platform during the second academic year and beyond. A platform that unlike Facebook and its haphazard nature will be maintained monthly and encourages reflection on building alternative models of higher education in Egypt.
CILAS alumni, current students and anyone who wishes to think about the aims of higher education is here invited to share their insights and reservations. In these monthly blog posts I will refer to readings that have contributed to my appreciation for liberal arts education as well as reinforced and challenged my conviction that training in the liberal arts is what creates competent democratic citizens.
philosopher Martha Nussbaum describes in her book 'Not for Profit' how education's primary goal is to teach students to be economically productive. This shortsighted focus on profitable skills, she explains, has eroded our ability to criticise authority, reduced our sympathy with the marginalised and different, and damaged our competence to deal with complex global problems.
the loss of these basic capacities jeopardises the health of democracies and the hope of a decent world. In an earlier book entitled 'Cultivating Humanity' Nussbaum argued that the purpose of a training in the liberal arts is to cultivate humanity, which in turn encompasses three capacities. These capacities tied together qualify you for active citizenship.
the first of the three capacities is the capacity for critical self-examination and critical thinking about one's own culture and traditions. The second is the capacity to see oneself as a human being who is bound to all human beings with ties of concern. The third is the capacity for narrative imagination - the ability to empathise with others and to put oneself in another's place.
at CILAS, these capacities are captured by its vision to 'create learning environments that are conducive to critical inquiry, self-reflection and civic engagement.' Building an alternative model of higher education will require thinking about the development of these capacities. I am opening the floor for discussion on ways, i.e. essential reading, films, games, practices, to cultivate humanity and qualify for citizenship.
thank you for your contributions.