The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy is establishing a master’s degree program in Ras al Khaimah, one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates. As part of the Friedman School’s mission to advance the nutritional well-being of people worldwide through excellence in teaching and research, the school is partnering with the government of Ras Al Khaimah to help the emirate position itself as a center for higher education in the entire Gulf region and beyond.
The graduate-level degree program will focus on nutrition science, policy and research tools, setting these concepts into the broad understanding of human biochemistry and physiology at each stage of the life cycle. The program will be taught in combined residency periods, complemented by online instruction. Building on the Friedman School's joint emphasis on both science and policy, the degree adds a new focus on nutrition and public health issues and challenges in the Gulf, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
"There are unique changes and challenges in the health and lifestyle of the citizens of the Middle Eastern countries," says Eileen Kennedy, dean of the Friedman School. Over the past two decades, the Gulf has experienced strong economic growth, but that has been accompanied by significant health issues in communities at risk for development of chronic disease related to changes in nutrition and physical activity.
"We have a tremendous opportunity to participate in educating tomorrow's nutrition leaders and policymakers to the implications of nutrition's linkage with wellness, quality of life and the importance of factors that influence individual nutrition and healthy lifestyle behavior," Kennedy notes.
The program will also extend into policy areas that affect nutrition and food security. Courses are being designed to include relevant regional examples and significant prescriptive and practical components.
"One signature element of this master's program will be an emphasis on providing students both with knowledge and nutrition research tools, as well as the ability to apply what is learned to solving the nutrition and lifestyle-related problems and challenges in the region," says Lynne Ausman, the Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Professor in International Nutrition and director of the new degree program.
The one-year program will consist of 10 courses (six full courses and four half-courses) and a thesis conducted in three 13-week terms. Students will spend three 10- to 14-day intensive residency periods in Ras Al Khaimah, with the remainder of each course taught using the latest distance learning methods and technologies.