Syracuse University Press has recently published Karen Ross’ first book, Youth Encounter Programs in Israel: Pedagogy, Identity, and Social Change.
Hailed as “a thoroughly researched, empirically rich, and valuable contribution to the literature on intergroup encounters in the Israeli/Palestinian context,” Ross’ research is relevant for peace education students and conflict resolution practitioners as well as scholars in the field.
The research focuses on Jewish-Palestinian youth encounter programs, endeavors bringing together young people from both sides of the conflict in Israel to develop positive relationships and deeper understandings of their peers and to work together towards a shared future.
Karen Ross, an assistant professor of conflict resolution whose research focuses on conceptual and methodological issues at the intersection of education, peacebuilding, and social activism, conducted a comparative study of two grassroots organizations in Israel, Peace Child Israel and Sadaka Reut.
Ross conducted more than 100 interviews with former participants and program staff and spent more than 200 hours observing their programming in order to understand the structure and pedagogical approaches of each organization. She also analyzed the impact of the youth meetings in terms of the depth of changes in their belief systems and their continued social change engagement.
“Looking at impact in terms of continued engagement in significant in two ways,” writes Ross. “First, it shifts the discussion from an internal focus to one emphasizing externally oriented initiatives. Moreover, looking at impact in terms of social change engagement enables us to see how programs that aim to transform individuals can link to societal-level shifts.”
Decades after the Oslo Accords, alienation and distrust has grown between Jews and Palestinians in Israel, and grassroots groups struggle to find funding to continue their important work to shape participants’ national identity, vision of social change, and motivation to continue to work toward the transformation of Israeli society.
Yet Karen Ross’ investigation and findings on how individual transformation can lead to larger-scale societal change provide not only new insights to conflict resolution methodology and practice but also bring renewed hope for the possibility of Jewish-Palestinian partnership.
McCormack Graduate School and the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance will celebrate Ross’ scholarship with a book party on December 4 at 4 p.m. The university community is welcome to attend.