Glad to be part of this amazing project – – Certificate of Study in the Historical and Religious Reality of the Middle East – “Caravan” Project of the Order of Malta with German students, at the Faculty of Religious Sciences, Saint Joseph University, Beirut-Lebanon, February 2020.
Expertise : Intensive course on Challenges, Opportunities, and Praxis of Interreligious Dialogue in the Middle East: The Case of Lebanon.
Much has been said about social responsibility in the last two to three decades, and many non-governmental organizations have created programs and organized youth camps in the Arab world to encourage individuals and groups to act for the benefit of society at large. However, ongoing political disorder, wars, and economic crises in several countries have contributed to the implementation of national security-based strategies, whereas any society’s survival depends on a social responsibility strategy, and this strategy should include peace education.
Peace education encompasses a variety of pedagogical approaches within formal curricula in schools and universities, and non-formal popular education projects. It aims to cultivate the knowledge and practices of a culture of peace, and plays an important role in individual and collective mindset changes.
Unfortunately, most academic curricula in the Arab world do not offer peace education courses, and little attention has been paid so far to the inclusion of peace programs in universities — they are considered to be low priorities.
In addition, many avoid giving too much attention and too many resources to Peace Studies programs out of fear that they may become politicized. The emphasis is usually placed on subjects considered to be tangible and have practical value for competition in the local, regional, and global marketplaces.
Peace education’s advantages are numerous:
It develops cultural awareness and effective communication strategies in intercultural/interreligious settings,
It leads to increased and differentiated understandings of cultures and a desire to expand one’s own knowledge of cultural customs, concepts, and values,
It helps deconstruct stereotypes and fight against xenophobia, discrimination, and ethnocentrism,
It helps the youth to reflect on the subjectivity of their own thoughts and language as they learn to step outside boundaries and develop more critical thinking,
It helps students to understand and experience unity in human diversity.
I have developed my own peace education approach and applied it in universities in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates with thousands of students from 2007 to 2018. The results of my research were published in several books and academic journals, proving the positive impact of peace education.
The basis of this educational approach is dialogue, which is not used as a mere technique to achieve some cognitive results, but to transform social relations. Through interactive practices and an emphasis on cooperation, students are provided with space in which they can undergo constructive analysis, build bridges, and develop a sense of national inclusive belonging.
Nonetheless, peace education faces many challenges and obstacles in our region, starting with the context itself that makes it hard to disseminate — such as the context of continuous physical and psychological wars in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Iraq,…
Furthermore, it still is a socially isolated affair. For peace education to have a large-scale impact, there are many conditions that need to be fulfilled, such as support from private institutions and public authorities, sustained interaction between students and their professors, interdependence in completing common tasks, etc.
In the context of both formal and non-formal education, funding for projects and their sustainability are two major challenges. Only elite schools and universities can offer sufficiently long training and the much needed follow-up support as inequalities and discrimination are a major challenge. In fact, they do not disappear when the classroom doors close or when they open again; students may continue pursuing opposing agendas, especially when they have unsupportive home environments.
Even when they are equipped with a new way of perceiving themselves and the “others”, the students enter into a collision course with their social surroundings and their “unquestionable truths” through their homes, neighborhoods, sectarian communities, political parties, and the media. In my opinion, peace education should be considered a public good and, as such, should be offered as a free service to all.
Youth represent the largest group in the region, and they are exposed to an increasing number of vulnerabilities, threats, and challenges. The lack of economic, educational, and leadership opportunities limits the youth’s full potential for contribution to their families and communities, and for sustainable development and peace.
Facing these challenges requires investment in youth education, active participation, visibility and empowerment. Such investment must target youth from all cultural and religious backgrounds, including young people from disparate communities, as well as young people with disabilities and vulnerable or marginalized youth.
Clearly, this investment will not be a waste, for a culture of peace is needed to build prosperous countries and inclusive societies, and this culture is not an unattainable ideal. It is a culture we can make, embody, and share.
By, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Director of SPNC Learning & Communication Expertise, University Professor, & Visual Artist.
Paying homage to my father Professor Naim Chrabieh who passed away on April 16, 2017.
SPNC was founded in Lebanon by the late Professor Naim Chrabieh in 1976 as full-fledged training sessions for university entrance exams. Professor Chrabieh was a pioneer in developing such sessions in the country which have acquired notoriety without equal, particularly training sessions for the St Josef University’s Schools of Medicine and Engineering entrance exams. A renowned physicist, peer educator, and producer of scientific knowledge, Professor Chrabieh combined excellence in academic communication with innovation in learning. He was a Civil Engineer, Dean of the Physics Science Department at Notre-Dame Jamhour’s College, and Professor of Physics at the School of Medicine at St Joseph University. In addition, he was the author of several scientific and pedagogical publications, as well as of national references in teaching and learning Physics.
Au dîner du Vice-recteur aux Affaires Internationales et à la Francophonie de l’Université de Montréal Monsieur Guy Lefebvre et son équipe. Avec le Réseau des diplômés de l’Université de Montréal!
Un premier pas vers la création d’une association d’anciens de l’université au Liban.
Nikro, Norman Saadi; Hegasy, Sonja (Eds.). Palgrave, 2017
By Tsjalling Wierdsma, Master Student on Heritage and Memory Studies, University of Amsterdam. Fellow at EUROM (2018).
The Social Life of Memory: Violence, Trauma, and Testimony in Lebanon and Morocco, edited by Norman Saadi Nikro and Sonja Hegasy, is part of the larger Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict Series, which focuses on themes such as heritage and memory of war and conflict, contested heritage, and competing memories. Contributors to the book include Joey Ayoub, Pamela Chrabieh, Brahim El Guabli, Ali Hamdan, Norah Karrouche, and Laura Menin. While the book focuses on the specific contexts of Lebanon and Morocco, in this short review I would like to reflect on some broader memory and heritage issues addressed in the book, while still keeping the particular contexts to which they refer and in which they were addressed in mind.
One of the main thematic parameters of the book concerns the interaction between, and “transformation of private memories into publicly shared memories, according to efforts claiming public acknowledgment and public redress” (2-3). Memory, in the process of this exchange, according to the authors of the book, “is acted on as a transformational site, a milieu, whereby social and political engagement takes place, situating memory as a public event” (3).
The book points to an interaction and tension between Nora’s famous concept of memory as lieu, as a memorial or other form of formal commemoration, and memory as the milieu. By addressing memory as milieu the book enables a focus on overlooked processes of memory that otherwise might not be classified as such. An example of this is given in Laura Menin’s chapter, in which she focuses on the process of waiting experienced by the families of victims of political violence that disappeared during the Years of Lead. Instead of viewing waiting as a purely passive process, she instead views it as a “multifaceted temporality that entails both passivity and proactive engagement” (27). Menin describes how waiting in this context is perceived as an additional state-imposed source of pain, trauma, and loss of agency, but simultaneously brings with it novel political subjectivities and specific modes of activism where personal memories of violence are re-socialized, made public, and act towards specific political and transformative goals (27).
Chapters such as Ali Nehme Hamdan’s, which focuses on the Hariri mosque in Martyrs Square Beirut as a site of memory, highlight the usefulness of the concept milieu for engaging with the everyday “messy stuff of contention” (146). It further allows for a focus on the simultaneously conflicting and collective cultures of memory, without “assuming the centrality of the nation-state to their production” (146), which is necessary in a context such as Lebanon, but also more generally enables a focus that highlights the multiple actors and the ways in which they engage, negotiate, and create sites and spaces of memory. It allows for an engagement with the “many cultures of memory that coexist at any one time” (147), and not just at the level of the nation-state.
Pamela Chrabieh’s chapter, focusing on the war stories of university students in Lebanon belonging to the 1990’s generation, adds a generational component to these cultures of memory, and problematizes Hirsch’s notion of post-memory, stating that “many memories that were transmitted not only constitute the memories or are part of the ressouvenir processes of the new generations in their own right, but also intermingle with other memories to the point of not having clear boundaries” (189).
Chrabieh employs Rothberg’s concept of multidirectionalmemory, to enable a generational conception of a malleable discursive space in which groups, their memories, and their positions come into being through dialogical interaction. Similarly, Norah Karrouche’s chapter, detailing how local memories of war and violence in the Northern Riff region of Morocco have shaped the agencies and identities of several generations of Berber activists in both Morocco and its diaspora, shows how newer generations of activists can attempt to inscribe themselves into and simultaneously construct larger mythological and symbolic histories of activism. Like Chrabieh, Karrouche shows how multiple episodes of violence interact. Karrouche further discusses how these histories of activism can act as mythomoteurs, grand narratives about the specificity of a place in history and (trans)-national narratives (232-233). In combination, the two chapters however also highlight the large contextual differences in the generational transmission of memories.
The interaction and the contradictions between the different chapters is one of the book’s largest strengths. Instead of taking away from the individual arguments, these contradictions work to show the many nuances and contradictions attached to institutions, spaces, and milieus of memory, when approached from different levels of analysis and with different focus points.