The University of Chicago will bring back the Cairo Middle Eastern civilizations program and introduce a new Hong Kong economics program for the winter 2020 quarter, it announced last Friday.
The Cairo program was removed as a study abroad program after the winter 2013 quarter, due to security issues and political turmoil in Egypt. The U.S. State Department decreased the severity of its travel warning advisory earlier this year, but still warns citizens not to visit certain parts of the country.
The Hong Kong economics program, the second undergraduate program to be established in Hong Kong after the spring Colonizations program, shares its location with the Booth School of Business’ Executive MBA (EMBA) degree program at UChicago’s new Hong Kong campus. Geared toward students interested in careers in finance, the economics program comes as UChicago continues to roll out increasingly pre-professional curricula, such as its new business economics major.
The Hong Kong economics program is intended for students who have completed core requirements of the economics or business economics major and are focused on banking and money management. It is UChicago’s first study abroad program designed for economics majors. Up until now, students interested in getting economics credits abroad have only able to do so through direct enrollment programs in foreign universities.
The Cairo Middle Eastern civilizations program fulfills the Civ Core by exploring Egyptian culture, history, literature, and archeology. Three other Middle Eastern civilizations programs in Morocco, Granada, and Jerusalem are also available for students who wish to study in the region.
UChicago removed its Cairo study abroad program after the State Department raised its advisory warning for Egypt to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” in 2013. In January, the State Department changed the advisory to “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution” following President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s imposition of heavy security measures.
Though the State Department still lists terrorism as a threat and warns citizens from visiting certain regions in Egypt, the department only warns citizens of traveling to a country at large when the country receives a Level 3 advisory.
UChicago spokesperson Marielle Sainvilus said in an e-mail to The Maroon that a study abroad program in Egypt is important for the University’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.
“Cairo, as one of the world’s oldest cities and a diverse cosmopolitan capital, offers an ideal location for the study of Egypt’s place in history and the modern world,” she said.
Egypt experienced a large drop in tourism after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. UChicago was one of several universities to pull its undergraduate program from the region after the deposition of dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Since 2011, Egypt has witnessed high levels of terrorist activities from Islamic State-affiliated groups in its northeastern Sinai Peninsula and Western Desert.
However, visitors have slowly returned as the region has stabilized. Though Egypt saw 5.4 million tourists in 2016 compared to 14.7 million in 2010, tourism has since grown to 8 million visitors in 2017.
Students who apply to the Hong Kong economics program may also continue their studies in Greater China with the Jeff Metcalf Internship program. UChicago will send the resumes of students who complete their program to Chinese employers interested in hiring UChicago undergraduates.
When asked why UChicago has decided to offer a pre-professional study abroad program, Sainvilus said, “The Hong Kong: Economics program builds on the success and popularity of the existing Hong Kong: Colonizations program, which is consistently one of our most sought-after Study Abroad opportunities. It is the first Study Abroad program designed specifically for the College’s largest major.”
Students must complete their applications before January 28, 2019 in order to be considered for the programs.