Water research, peace and conflict studies and technology development are some of the issues ripe for collaboration between UMass Lowell and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. An agreement signed on Feb. 2 outlines plans for a broad partnership between the two universities that will include academics, research and experiential learning.
“As a former member of the United States Congress, I have always understood the value and importance of international collaborations – particularly with Israel,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan. “Both UMass Lowell and Ben-Gurion University are committed to enhancing economic development and promoting peace in the Middle East.”
Ben-Gurion Rector Zvi HaCohen traveled to Lowell to formalize the agreement and meet with the University’s faculty and administrators. A leading research university in Israel, Ben-Gurion has an enrollment of 19,000 students across five campuses. With the institution’s focus on robotics, renewable energy, cyber security and other disciplines, HaCohen envisions many areas of potential collaboration with UMass Lowell. View photos of the event.
Joint research on water is already getting started. In the Middle East, the availability of water is a significant problem that impacts economic development, public health and political stability.
“Water is a fundamental human need that affects all people,” said Prof. Paula Rayman, director of the UMass Lowell Middle East Center Peace, Development and Culture. “Without water there can be no sustained economic growth.”
Researchers from both universities will collaborate on water remediation, climate change and public policy. To address the peace process in the region, Rayman also expects there will be collaboration with Ben-Gurion’s Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy.
The partnership between the two universities is the result of a visit to Ben-Gurion in 2009 led by Provost Ahmed Abdelal. Abdelal has a longstanding relationship with Ben-Gurion that began when he was at Georgia State University.
“These international partnerships will continue to strengthen the quality of the education that we offer,” Abdelal said. “They will also expand research opportunities for our faculty and provide access to global resources.”
In addition to the research and scholarly collaborations, the Ben-Gurion partnership opens up a variety of international internship possibilities. “Our partnership marks an exciting beginning to go beyond what each university can do by itself and it will create a new generation of decision makers, entrepreneurs and leaders who can compete and collaborate with the best in the world,” Meehan said.