Skip to main content

College to Host "Bridges" Workshop for American-Israeli Academic Collaboration

Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Westminster College will host "Bridges," the third annual workshop forging American-Israeli academic collaboration between faculties from Westminster and Western Galilee College in Akko, Israel, Sept. 19-23.

The workshop will provide opportunities for the partnership institutions' faculty members to engage in formal and informal discussions to enrich their teaching and research.  More than 30 faculty and staff from Western Galilee and Westminster are expected to participate.

"It is our hope that this growing academic partnership between our two schools will result in new learning opportunities for our faculty and students," said Dr. Richard Dorman, president of Westminster College.  "A central theme of the liberal arts college mission is to expose students to new ideas, cultures, and ways of viewing the world.   Western Galilee College provides a very rich learning laboratory for our faculty and students in a variety of academic disciplines and we are excited about our new working relationship."

A highlight of the week will be the signing of an academic partnership agreement between the two schools Monday at 7 p.m. in the Witherspoon Rooms of the McKelvey Campus Center.  More than a dozen Westminster students and faculty have conducted research in Israel in the past two years through the partnership.

"The Bridges Workshop is wonderful opportunity for Westminster College on many levels," said Dr. Bryan Rennie, chair of the Westminster steering committee.  "Bringing faculty members from Western Galilee to our campus gives a chance for our faculty and students to hear from the members of another, very different, campus culture that nonetheless shares our commitment to education and service, despite their very different context.  Beyond simply increasing exposure to cultural diversity on our campus, our additional hope is that the workshop will promote collaborative research projects between their faculty and our own.  This will enable research projects that we may never have been able to accomplish alone, ranging from archeological work in the Galilee region to economic, sociological, and political projects based in the Middle East."

"Westminster College is particularly excited to involve students in such collaborations," Rennie continued.  "Six Westminster students involved in three different projects have already done research in Israel as a direct result of our collaboration."

More highly developed proposals will be presented in a series of plenary sessions that are open to the public.  All plenary sessions will take place in the Witherspoon Maple Room of the McKelvey Campus Center:
• Monday, Sept. 19:
   o 9:20 a.m. Plenary address "Career Building in the Social Sciences" by Western Galilee College President Dr. Gideon Fishman with an introduction by Westminster College President Dr. Richard Dorman
   o 10:30 a.m. "Multicultural Education in Korea and in Israel" presented by Dr. SoYoung Kang and Dr. Devorah Eden
   o 12:50 p.m. "Using Kindles with Struggling Readers" presented by Dr. Amy Camardese, Dr. Eileen Morelli, and Dr. Yehuda Peled
• Tuesday, Sept. 20:
   o 9:20 a.m. "Beliefs about Homeland Security and Terrorism" presented by Dr. Michael Aleprete, Dr. James Rhoads, and Dr. Ephraim Kahana
   o 2 p.m. "Leadership Perceptions among Women Managers from Different Worlds" presented by Dr. Sherri Pataki and Dr. Randa Abbas
• Wednesday, Sept. 21:
   o 9:20 a.m. "The Material Culture of Religion in the Early City" presented by Dr. Bryan Rennie and Dr. Nimrod Luz
• Thursday, Sept. 22:
   o 9:20 a.m. "The Role and Impact of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Shaping National Environmental Policies and a Comparison of Cross-Boundary Pollution Issues at the Israeli/Palestinian and U.S./Mexican Borders" presented by Dr. Edward Cohen and Dr. Boaz Barak
   o 2 p.m. "Implementation of Interactive White Boards in Four Western Pennsylvania School Districts" presented by Dr. Mandy Medvin, Dr. Linda Domanski, and Dr. Yehuda Peled

The final public session will be "Non-Violent Social Unrest in Israel," a panel discussion among faculty from both institutions on recent developments.  This session will be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Witherspoon Lakeview Room of the McKelvey Campus Center.

In addition to the plenary sessions, participants will take part in roundtable sessions to discuss potential collaboration, to encourage further collaboration, and to seek advice from other faculty to develop nascent projects.  Each of these sessions will involve about 10 faculty: two pairs of collaborators who will discuss their work with six other participants.

Financial support for the conference is provided by the Jewish Agency's Partnership with Israel Program, the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, the Thomases Family Endowment Fund, and the Vira I. Heinz Foundation.

Click here or contact Rennie at (724) 946-7151 (email) for additional information.