At all universities, most faculty engage in teaching, research, and service activities. In many cases, there is a strong confluence among these duties. Such is the case with Professor David E. Matz and his teaching on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a local Boston synagogue.
Matz founded the Graduate Programs in Conflict Resolution, now housed in the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. He is a recognized expert on “sharing Jerusalem” and has worked extensively with Arab and Jewish groups, here and abroad. Working in Israel, he was central in developing policies and practices for the Israeli Ministry of Justice and Supreme Court to integrate mediation into the judicial system. He has also studied these approaches to the peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
He explained that many American Jewish communities are struggling with how to talk about the contentious topic of Israel. For some, the subject matter is strictly taboo; while others simply chose not to discuss it out of ignorance or frustration.
However, in 2011, the leadership of Temple Israel, the largest Reform congregation in Massachusetts, decided to launch iEngage. As defined in a recent Boston Globe article, iEngage is “an intensive seminar on the political and moral quandaries facing Israel and the relationship between Israel and Jews elsewhere in the world.”
For the second time in as many years, Matz is sharing his insights with members of Temple Israel in Boston.
An abbreviated version of one of his graduate courses, Matz offered a four-part seminar last April on the history of the conflict to an audience of a few dozen members of the congregation. This spring, he will lecture on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. This course will include an all-day session as well as three evening seminars this year.
According to Ira A. Jackson, dean at the McCormack Graduate School, “David’s seminars at Temple Israel are a terrific example of local learning with a global perspective – a hallmark of our graduate school.”
Matz has included two graduate students in the curriculum development for these seminars. Conflict Resolution master’s degree alumna Laura Ribitzky and graduate certificate candidate Corey Evans are benefiting from this extra-curricular experience with their mentor. Matz explains, “It not only reinforces the conflict resolution theories learned in class, it exposes them to application techniques in the real-world.”
“I very much enjoy sharing my teaching experience and Middle East expertise to help the Jewish community with very controversial subjects,” noted Matz. “In fact, such inter-cultural, interfaith conflict resolution is one of the strengths our faculty’s scholarship and service activities,” referring to the work of his faculty associates, Darren Kew and Eben Weitzman, who are working to resolve disputes between local law enforcement and Arab and Muslims groups.
Learn more about the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance
- Conflict Resolution (master's degree and graduate certificates)
- International Relations (master's degree program)
- Global Governance and Human Security (PhD program)
Boston Globe article, "Synagogue devotes 3 years to reengage on Israel" (January 7, 2013)