This article is based on an action-oriented study of 13 community-engaged courses at 11 institutions of higher education in Israel. These courses were not part of peace education programs but rather accredited academic courses in various disciplines, all of which included practice and theory. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how these courses provided transformative learning experiences, allowing Jewish and Arab students to reexamine social issues in a micro-climate of openness and intellectual rigor, thereby developing their commitment to engaging with the 'other' and the 'otherized.' By providing opportunities for reflection, the courses allowed students to build new networks of relationships within a deeply divided society. Nevertheless, the research reveals that though the students in these courses were highly aware of inequalities in society, they tended to self-define as non-political both in their theoretical learning and their action for change. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and questions of war and peace were almost absent from the academic classroom. The reluctance to engage in political discussion or activism - even in Partnership classrooms where students are given the opportunity to encounter the 'other' first hand - speaks volumes about the fear that prevails on campuses in Israel and other conflict zones.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was made possible thanks to a research grant from the US Institute of Peace (USIP-091-08F).
- civic responsibility
- community engagement
- higher education