Moshe Dayan Center Hosts Top International Academics for Workshop on the Middle East Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Intensive TAU project offers scholars a sophisticated view of the ever changing Middle East
Dayan Center Workshop attendees get a "bird's-eye view" of the contemporary Middle East
In July, Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies hosted 18 academics from all over the globe for the Center's eighth annual Workshop on Israel and the Middle East. The intensive 12-day program drew participants from a host of academic disciplines including history, international relations, political science, and law to gain a unique, balanced, and on-the-ground perspective about the history of Middle Eastern conflicts and the region's contemporary challenges from one of the world's top think tanks.
Over the past eight years, the Workshop has welcomed more than 140 participants from around the globe, hailing from prestigious institutions including Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and Cornell University in the US, as well as France's Sorbonne, the London School of Economics, and the Shanghai International Studies University.
Prof. Uzi Rabi
Prof. Uzi Rabi, the head of the Moshe Dayan Center, said that the unique project "serves as an academic platform for scholars from around the world to exchange views and pursue joint academic activities, such as conferences, student exchanges, journal publications, and more."
Education beyond books
The workshop aims to bring academic learning to life, helping scholars to gain novel insights and a first-hand deeper understanding of the conflict.
Drawing on the expertise of both Israeli and Palestinian scholars, the workshop provides the opportunity to visit key sites at which significant events in modern history have taken place, including Jewish and Muslim holy places such as the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock, the security wall, and the Lebanese-Israeli border. The program inspires scholars to advance their own research and create a more sophisticated learning experience for their students at their home universities.
Prof. Michael Reynolds of Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies praised the program's dedication to presenting a variety of viewpoints and multiple narratives. "The workshop did an excellent job of conveying the complexities of Israeli society," he said.
"The combination of the site visits and the intellectual substance of the panels made it a unique opportunity for those of us who teach the subject," said Prof. Nathan Citino, a historian at Colorado State University. "Seeing the contested geography first-hand (and from a helicopter) enables me to read maps with new eyes."
Forging international partnerships
One of the benefits of the workshop is the establishment of a network of scholars around the globe, says Prof. Rabi. Participants forge both personal and professional relationships with the Moshe Dayan Center during their time in Israel. This has given rise to fruitful collaborations, including joint conferences and scholarly works, student exchange programs, and visiting scholars. Several past participants have contributed to Bustan: The Middle East Book Review, TAU's own publication on Middle Eastern affairs.
The program has been the incubator for cooperative agreements between TAU and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, South Korea, and spurred visits of student groups from Sweden's Lund University, North Carolina State University, and South Dakota University, among others. A former participant of the program is currently organizing an exchange program between TAU and Akhawayn University in Morocco.
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