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
UMass 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
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.