Palestine has long been the site of rich inter-cultural, religious, economic, and political exchange as well as conflicts.
In the contemporary period, it presents the international community with some of the most difficult social and political challenges. While a small minority hold citizenship within the state of Israel, Palestinians comprise among the largest number of refugees in the world, with more than half remaining entirely stateless. They form a diverse and dynamic diaspora that spans the globe.
Military violence normally brings attention to the Palestinian experience, resulting in widespread misunderstanding and one-dimensional thinking. Often missing from the headlines are not only the activities of Jewish, Israeli and Palestinian human rights, peace and justice organisations but any attention to a rich and complex body of scholarly, artistic, literary, creative, and popular works.
At the University of Waterloo, our students show us every day that they are open to new perspectives, care about justice, and want to work for peace. The Faculty of Arts at UW has increasingly turned its attention to offering meaningful opportunities for cultural awareness and exchange, establishing new programs in Black Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Cultural Identities. Further, our students want to put what they learn into practice. From the Stratford School of Design to the Centre for Peace Advancement, our students design projects, invent and advance new innovations in their desire to make the world a better, more secure, healthier place—for everyone. They are genuinely curious about the world. And they are bright: They love to find new angles on how we might resolve old problems!
But to solve problems, The Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund
we need to talk about them.
The University of Waterloo’s Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund aims to make space for meaningful dialogue around Palestine: its history, its culture, and the challenges Palestinians face today. We hope to build on the vision, energy, and strengths of our founding donor, Mr. Shawky Fahel, our students and faculty—and extend educational opportunities to the larger community—by bringing in fresh perspectives and established expertise, offering our students new intercultural experiences to foster inclusive cultural understanding, compassion, and mutual respect, and to support research and education to transform conflict, relieve suffering, and build peace.
The Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund: Towards a Deeper Understanding
The core vision of the Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund springs from the pressing need to throw light on genuine Palestinian realities and relationships. Palestinian Studies carry extra urgency at this moment, when its subject is surrounded by so much misinformation, and even disinformation. Through the work of the Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund, students will come to appreciate one of life’s crucial lessons: that truth is multi-faceted, and reality is often shrouded in layers of ignorance, fear, and misapprehension. The Foundation aims to be a catalyst that sparks greater interest in and awareness of the Palestinian experience by supporting research on the diverse challenges that affect Palestinians and encouraging open and informed discussions on Palestinian issues in the university and wider community.
Waterloo scholars have a proven track record of fusing rigorous scholarship with real-world application, and Palestine is a particularly meaningful site for Waterloo’s hands-on style of teaching, learning, and research. Palestinians face many of the challenges that are not only of concern to those located in the Israel/Palestine region but to the wider international community: from water, food, and energy security to forced displacement and refugee integration. Through meaningful partnerships and research, Waterloo students and faculty will be exposed to the complexities of these challenges while also engaging in developing proposals that will hold real prospects for change in the region and beyond.
“By drawing into conversation scholars, political and community leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, and public intellectuals, [the Fund] has the potential to offer our students rare opportunities to engage in real-world problem-solving initiatives and transformative scholarship.”
Jasmin Habib, Associate Professor, Political Science, Faculty of Arts
Initiatives that Foster Insight
The Fund’s initiatives will address a broad range of topics around Palestinians and the global Palestinian diaspora, including its history; arts and culture; trade and economics; and conflict avoidance and transformation.
As a first step in the Fund’s goals, we envision establishing an annual public lecture series featuring distinguished experts from within and beyond the academic community. This series will raise public awareness, encourage discussion, and offer insights into Palestinian life and culture, peacebuilding, resilience, and conflict avoidance. Waterloo students and the general public will have the opportunity to engage with visiting speakers to deepen their understanding of Palestinian and regional issues.
Other initiatives may include:
International Study Trips: Like no other kind of learning, international study experience is truly transformative. Study abroad has changed the lives and opened the minds of so many of our students. The Fund will help support student travel to Israel—for coursework, research, or a semester abroad—as well as post-travel outreach and education to enrich the wider Waterloo community. For example: Political Science 490, The Cultural Politics of Palestine and Israel, includes a two-week trip and a student summit.
Feedback from student participants in 2016’s field study
“We are international citizens. Living as a single identity is no longer an option. The more we learn about other cultures, the richer our lives become. This trip to the region l expanded my own world view, forged new friendships, and brought to light new passions that I will explore.”
“The two weeks I spent in the region as a part of the PSCI490 course were the most incredible, enriching and memorable weeks of my life. I have never felt so incredibly connected to content I had studied in the classroom, and it opened my eyes to a very different part of the world. While the dialogue of the Middle East has often been dominated by conflict, there is so much more to the state of relations in that region of the world.”
Research Awards: Waterloo aims to create a fund to support faculty and graduate students who pursue research projects under the theme of Palestinian studies. This fund would be open to members of all faculties and departments.
Post-Doctoral Fellowships: These two-year fellowships will attract rising stars of Palestinian studies or those whose research intersects with Palestinian Studies and bring new energy and fresh ideas to the university. In turn, postdoctoral fellows offer opportunities for further research to individuals planning research careers in academia, or who will carry their insights into roles in government or industry.
At the University of Waterloo, we believe that experience matters. Our founding innovation—a co-operative education program that is today the world’s largest—was based on the idea that students learn best when immersed in real-world settings. Through our hands-on approach to learning and our emphasis on interdisciplinary study and research, our faculty and students discover innovative solutions for global-scale problems.
Palestinian Studies is by its nature interdisciplinary. So too is the University of Waterloo! As a home to successfully integrated interdisciplinary programs and institutions, UW offers students and researchers a wealth of opportunities to develop as well as to build on the strengths across the faculties and affiliated colleges so that we may tackle profoundly difficult problems posed by, for example, social inequality, statelessness, military conflict, as well as to learn from those who have made longstanding commitments to peacebuilding, humanitarianism, and cultural creativity in the face of deprivation and violence.
The University of Waterloo offers an MA and a PhD in Global Governance which is housed at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, a partnership between the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the Waterloo-based public policy think tank Centre for International Governance Innovation. The School’s many research clusters, including its Conflict and Security Research Cluster and its Global Institutions, Diplomacy and Justice Research Cluster draw together scholars from a wide range of disciplines, from political science, history, and economics, along with experienced practitioners.
Drawing on faculty and graduate students from across all six of Waterloo’s faculties, the UW Water Institute conducts ground-breaking interdisciplinary research addressing the technical, political, social, and economic facets of water’s relationship to human well-being and the natural world.
Students in the Peace and Conflict Studies program at Conrad Grebel College learn to analyze peace and conflict aspects of systems and structures, identify methodologies that can resolve conflict, and apply conceptual and practical models that contribute to a culture of peace.
The Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel College is an academic hub that incubates and advances collaborative, interdisciplinary, multisector peacemaking. It supports collaboration between peace scholars, practitioners, and innovators, including the Tamarack Institute, which develops citizen engagement to solve major community issues, and the Mennonite Central Committee, which has had a presence in Palestine since 1949.
Additionally, the Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund opens up potential links and networks for our co-op students, especially through our Co-op for Social Good Program.
“One of the great values of cultural studies is the opportunity this field provides for both inward- and outward-facing discovery and enlightenment. We learn more about ourselves by learning about others, especially when we are enabled and encouraged to examine critically our own beliefs. “
Dr. Sheila Ager, Dean, Faculty of Arts
The University of Waterloo is looking for donors to build on the generous donation of Waterloo businessman and philanthropist Shawky Fahel, whose gift of $100,000 was made in honour of Feridun Hamdullahpur’ s tenure as President and Vice-Chancellor. Our goal is to raise $5 million over the next 5 years, to seed the Foundation for Palestinian Studies .
Cultivating Education, Seeding Global Change
The University of Waterloo is focused on making a genuine impact on the world. Our founders gave us a charter to bring the insights and innovations of academic life into the community at local, national, and global levels. Grounded in the central ethos of the University of Waterloo, the goal of the Foundation for Palestinian Studies Fund is to contribute to real change by promoting mutual respect and insight, by shedding new light for our students and broader community on a culture and communities little understood in the West, and by exploring potential solutions for thorny and entrenched problems. Peace and understanding are possible. Your donation can help us get there.
“Our vision is education, education, education. Understanding begins with education and awareness. Changing minds can change the course of history.”
Founder and Chairman
Canadian International Development Organization
173 Roger Street Waterloo, Ontario Canada, N2J 1B1