The Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture

News & Events

An integral part of the Center's mission is to plan a wide range of activities to shed light on the major issues in the Middle East and their significance in the global arena. The Center will work to advance knowledge of the relationship between economic development and successful peace efforts. The Center will host guest speaker series, seminars and cultural events as well as dissemination of relevant research reports, media resources and special lectures. 

Upcoming Events

“The Changing Middle East”
Lunch Discussions

March 9, March 25, April 22 (see details below)
12:30-1:45 p.m. 
University Crossing 255

Join the Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture for an informative discussion about current events. Lunch will be served. RSVP or questions to

Monday, March 9: Can ISIS be defeated?
Led by Gregory Aftandilian, Associate, Middle East Center

Wednesday, March 25: Israel after the elections: Is there hope for peace? 
Led by Seth Izen, Assistant Director, Middle East Center

Wednesday, April 22: Iran’s nuclear program: Is a deal possible?
Led by Gregory Aftandilian, Associate, Middle East Center

Dr_Telhami_Sm"America in Arab Eyes and Arabs in American Eyes"
Shibley Telhami, Ph.D.

Tuesday, April 14
12:30-1:45 p.m.
O'Leary Library 222
Free and Open to the Public

Shibley Telhami, Ph.D., will review public opinion polls in the United States and the Arab World to assess changing public perceptions of issues that concern both sides. Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park, and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Recent Videos

Recent News & Events

United States Ambassador to Israel Honors Professor Rayman as Distinguished American Speaker

Paula Rayman PresentationProfessor Paula Rayman, Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture, was honored as a “Distinguished American Speaker” by the United States Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, on November 21, 2014. She presented a talk, “The Role of Women in Building Positive Peace,” which covered how women’s movements in Israel and internationally are advancing new visions for peace. She detailed the eight pillars of positive peace and ways in which women are bringing new momentum to ending violence and building sustainable peace. Read more.

Middle East Center Trains Jewish and Arab Women in Non-Violent Communication

Professor Paula Rayman, Director of Middle East Center, and Mr. Seth Izen, Assistant Director of the Middle East Center conducted a training in non-violent communication for Jewish and Arab women in Ramle, Israel in November. The workshop was held at Open House, an organization committed to bridging the divide between the two sides through fostering understanding and empathy. Dalia Landau, the co-founder of Open House, stated: "These skills are a much needed life-long practice, we realize, which we hope to implement in our daily life and hopefully to follow up with Paula and Seth whenever they are in the country."

Provost Ahmed Abdelal Receives Honorary Fellowship from Shenkar College

Shenkar_Award Every year, Shenkar College for Engineering, Design and Art grants an honorary fellowship to remarkable individuals. Each one, an exceptional talent in his or her field, who harness their great capabilities to the advancement of Shenkar. This year, the event took place on May 28th, on the rooftop of the renovated Pernick Building of Shenkar, in the city of Ramat Gan. Among the awards winners was Provost Abdelal. The text read during the ceremony was as follows: 

Prof. Ahmed Abdelal, Provost at University of Massachusetts Lowell, is responsible for establishing partnerships around the world. He has invested great efforts in building a fruitful cooperation with Shenkar. A cooperation that began with the International Graduate Studies in Plastics Engineering. Abdelal earned his Ph.D. in Microbiology and carried out post-doctoral research in the same field. He has served in major positions in other leading universities, and founded the Middle East Center for Peace, Culture, and Development. 

Read more in the Fall 2014 Newsletter (pdf)

UMass Lowell Delegation Visits Partner Universities in Israel; Expands Student, Faculty, Research Exchange

At the end of May, an interdisciplinary delegation led by Provost Ahmed Abdelal visited Israel to deepen partnerships, expand student, faculty and research exchange, and promote the university’s mission of educating for global citizenship. The delegation included Provost Ahmed Abdelal, Professor Paula Rayman, Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Development and Culture, Dr. Julie Chen, Vice Provost for Research, Dr. Joseph Hartman, Dean of Engineering, Professor Steve McCarthy, Plastics Engineering, Professor Haim Levkowitz, Computer Science, Professor Gilbert Brown, Nuclear Engineering, Professor Ellen Wetmore, Art, and Mr. Seth Izen, Assistant Director of the Middle East Center.

Read more in the Fall 2014 Newsletter (pdf)

Vital Visions for Security and Democracy in the Middle East 


The Middle East Center received a grant from the United States Institute of Peace’s Public Support for Education Program and the International Institute for Education. This grant enabled the Center to hold an interdisciplinary panel on the challenges and opportunities for building democracy and security in the Middle East. Dr. Paula Rayman, Director of the Middle East Center, spoke about how women’s nonviolent movements are a powerful force for change. She highlighted the role of women in Egypt, Israel, Palestinian, and Syria in advocating for security and positive peace—the presence of conditions such as justice, education, and rights that are necessary for lasting peace. Neil Shortland, Senior Research Associate with the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, addressed the linkages between poverty and violence. Greg Aftandilian, Associate with the Middle East Center, spoke on the role of United States foreign policy in promoting democracy. This grant was the third received from the United States Institute of Peace and led to a substantive dialogue on campus regarding key issues in international peacebuilding in the Middle East.

Women in Public Service Conference Hosts Delegates from Middle East and around the World 

WPSPUMass Lowell welcomed emerging women leaders from Afghanistan, Turkey, Northern Ireland and Liberia for a conference on Conflict Transformation through Economic Development and Innovation. The conference, organized in partnership with the other UMass campuses and Arizona State University, San Francisco State University and University of Maryland Baltimore County, served as the launch of the public sector involvement in the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP). Read more

New Courses Cover Key Topics in Middle East

Perspectives on Human Rights

An interdisciplinary course built around the visit of 2014 Greeley Scholar Albie Sachs, focused on issues of human rights around the world, including a special focus on the Middle East. The Honorable Albie Sachs is a former constitutional court justice in South Africa who was appointed to the bench by Nelson Mandela. During his residence at UMass Lowell in April, Justice Sachs will teach the classes. During the rest of the semester, inter-disciplinary faculty will teach the course. Professor Paula Rayman, Director of the Middle East Center and Peace and Conflict Studies, acted as coordinator for this special interdisciplinary seminar. Professor Shana Minkin provided her expertise as a historian to discuss discourses about human rights in Egypt, Professor Deina Abdelkader explored the univerality of morality, and Professor Wael Kamal will looked at the relationship between communication, media and human rights.

Bridging Minds for Peace: Interfaith Perspectives and The Universal Moral System

Professor Wagdi Zeid developed an innovative new course focused on exploring how a universal moral system could help resolve conflicts in the Middle East. Through examining four major interfaith studies, the course helped students identify and explore a set of morals in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, examine how far this set of morals could be universally accepted by all, even the nonreligious and shed light on the possibilities and challenges to bridging the religious divide through a universal, interfaith moral code.

Cross-Cultural Conflict Resolution through Media

Professor Wael Kamal, Journalism & Media Studies and Art, is developing a course that uses media (in the form of video) to promote cross-cultural communication for peace. This course is guided by the idea that promoting a “one-size-fits-all” democratic model has been misguided, and ultimately counterproductive. In the course, students will create short videos without dialogue (just music) and share them with students from a different culture, as an example with a partner University in the United Arab Emirates and vice-versa. Through this process, the students will explore creating a common ground of understanding between different cultures with the aim of coexistence. Students are going to read and learn about negotiating change via communication instead of forcing change via power. The class will focus on the concept of accepting the other with the aim of coexistence and peace.

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