The Classroom as Peace Incubator: A US-Gaza Case Study
Peace and Conflict Studies, Fall 2014, Vol 21, No. 2, pp 153-171
19 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2014 Last revised: 14 Feb 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2014
This paper describes the design, implementation, and lessons from a case study in transforming two university classrooms into what we call an international “peace incubator.” In the besieged Gaza Strip, opportunities for normalization of relations with Israel are almost non-existent, and there is very limited desire or personal capacity among the student population of Gaza to do the work of peace-building. A semester-long videoconference class linking IUPUI and Gaza University students sought to address this deficit by developing a model for building ties of friendship and cooperation. West Bank peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis once spoke of a coming Third Palestinian Intifada (or uprising) that would be mounted through art, music, poetry and film. Inspired by his dedication to long term peacebuilding, we set about opening a channel of communication through our classroom experiment to allow the students to see beyond the negative stereotypes and allow friendship and understanding to flourish. Our experiment was designed to not only promote trust between US and Palestinian faculty and students, but to also creatively endorse Mer Khamis’ strategy for peace-building, and giving voice to those struggling to be heard.
Keywords: Gaza, Israel, Palestine, Peace, Online education, IUPUI
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