There is a new take on the expression “Peace in the Middle East.” At the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Bethehem Bible College (BBC) is now offering a comprehensive Master’s degree in Peace Studies. The new program is the first of its kind in Palestine and is poised to offer one of the most enriching and unique educational experiences in the field.
Whereas most Peace Studies programs are taught from the comfortable vantage of the United States or Western Europe, this college is right on the dividing line between the two nationalities. Students attend classes at Bethlehem Bible College, situated just a few blocks from the infamous separation wall. The occupation and all of its hardships are tangible as students interact and live with Palestinians and Israelis who’ve suffered at the hands of contention and conflict.
September 7th, 2015 marked the official launch of the program. A diverse group of students representing various nationalities and religious beliefs are enrolled. The courses are taught in English by a cavalcade of internationally renowned scholars: Christians, Muslims, Jews, and atheists, men and women of all stripes who are dedicated to ensuring a rich and balanced education with a commitment to the highest academic standards.
Kick-starting the program is a two-week intensive study and overview of nonviolent strategies for peacemaking. World famous Palestinian nonviolence activist, Mubarak Awad, is teaching. Sometimes referred to as the “Gandhi of Palestine,” Dr. Awad is the founder of Nonviolence International in Washington, D.C. USA and has worked with the likes of Yasser Arafat to advocate for nonviolent approaches to the Palestinian cause.Each day there are interactive case studies, lectures, group assignments, and readings. Students learn from the various nonviolent movements in history and glean knowledge from the most widely recognized academic works published on the topic.
There is much anticipation that Bethlehem Bible College’s Masters of Peace Studies will successfully train local and international peacemakers to be agents of peace and professionals who build bridges instead of walls.
Amira is the Communications Coordinator of Bethlehem Bible College. She is a committed Palestinian Christian who has a passion for writing about the intersection of faith and seeking justice for her fellow countrymen. To read more of her writings sign up for Bethlehem Bible College’s monthly newsletter.