- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK (AP) - A first-of-its-kind collaboration between an American college and a Palestinian university will allow Palestinian students to earn American degrees on a West Bank campus.

The project, kicking off this year between Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and the West Bank’s al-Quds University, seeks to improve relations between Americans and Palestinians while boosting education in the Palestinian territories, said Bard College president Leon Botstein.

Botstein designed the program with his al-Quds counterpart, Sari Nusseibeh. Philanthropist George Soros’ Open Society Institute has promised an initial grant of $1.5 million.

The project will have three parts: an American-style liberal arts college, a master’s degree in education and a model high school where new education techniques will be tested.

“If there is going to be peace in this region of the world, it requires instruments of peace that are not guns and are not the destruction of people and not war,” he said. “If education and culture are not those instruments, what are they?”

The liberal arts college is set to open on the al-Quds campus east of Jerusalem in the town of Abu Dis in September 2009 with a first class of 100 students and a faculty of Palestinian and international lecturers.

Students will study history, economics, political science and other subjects, and earn bachelor’s degrees from both universities.

The degree from Bard will be a huge benefit for Palestinian students because Israel does not currently recognize degrees from al-Quds, said al-Quds executive vice president Hasan Dweik.

The 100 students in the master’s in teaching program this summer will do their practical work at the model high school, set to open in 2010 with a freshman class.

All programs will focus on critical thinking, not on memorizing and reproducing information, the emphasis of current Palestinian education, Dweik said.

“By applying this type of education, we can change the education system in Palestine,” he said.

Botstein, who also serves as music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra, said more American colleges should form similar partnerships.

“If we don’t reach out and help other nations build universities of equal quality, how can we expect the base of mutual understanding that will allow for the freedom and democracy we always talk about?” he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide