Peace-Building Leadership Seminar

PLS GOALS:

  • CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING, RESPECT, EMPATHY, & SELF-REFLECTION
  • CONSENSUS BUILDING SKILLS
  • A SENSE OF EMPOWERMENT, AGENCY, & INITIATIVE
  • A SENSE OF SHARED COMMUNITY, EVEN DURING TIMES OF CONFLICT
  • SKILLS FOR EFFECTIVE & OPEN DIALOGUE, CONFLICT RESOLUTION, CAMPAIGNING, & ADVOCACY
  • INFORMED PERSPECTIVES ON THE POLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST & THE ENVIRONMENT
  • A GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF COEXISTENCE INITIATIVES & MODELS OF CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION

In line with the Arava Institute’s mission to generate capacity-building for conciliation and cooperation, all students and interns participate in a weekly Peace-building Leadership Seminar (PLS). In this seminar, students engage in dialogue exploring issues of culture, religion, identity, coexistence, and the current political situation, while developing competencies in intercultural understanding and empathy.

PLS builds on the conviction that the social and political relationships within and between groups in the region have a significant influence on environmental practices, public policies, and grassroots environmental activism. PLS takes advantage of the Arava Institute’s own community as a microcosm of the region, building the tools and understanding necessary to foster environmental sustainability, social justice, and respect in the broader society. Every student, no matter the country of origin, has the opportunity to contribute significantly to this ongoing dialogue.

PLS sessions take place weekly throughout the academic year, with each session addressing different aspects of the program’s learning objectives. PLS group activities and one-on-one discussion groups contribute to students’ developing a repertoire of respectful and consensus-building interactions. In addition, each semester, PLS welcomes guest speakers who bring a wealth of knowledge about current coexistence initiatives.

Participants of PLS will be challenged to:

  • Look critically at their own views, understanding of history, and cultural values.
  • Explore the intersections of identity, power, and privilege.
  • Explore conflict conceptually – how does it present itself in our lives? How do we feel about it? How is our relationship to conflict culturally-bound? Is conflict negative? Positive? Can we use conflict as a positive catalyst for change? If yes, how?

PLS is made possible by the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

About the Hanns Seidel Foundation

hanns seidelThe Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), founded in 1967, is a political foundation affiliated with the German Christian Social Union (CSU). The foundation is named after the former prime minister of Bavaria and party chairman of the CSU, Dr. Hanns Seidel. The foundation began its project work in Israel in 1979 and in the Palestinian Territories in 1994. The HSF is committed to implementing activities in the service of democracy and peace. The various projects focus on creating a shared society, strengthening democratic participation, and furthering regional cooperation.

The HSF sees its contribution to “The Irmgard Baum Peace Building Leadership Seminar” also as a natural and necessary continuation of German history and responsibility. Irmgard Baum, a German Holocaust survivor and refugee, used part of the German government reparation money to support the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which addressed her concerns for peace, democracy, the environment, and the creation of mutual understanding between people.

As a German political foundation, the HSF acknowledges the German past and places importance on its special responsibility for the existence and security of the State of Israel. This can be achieved by continuing Irmgard Baum’s legacy as a Jewish Holocaust survivor and her solid support for values of peace, democracy, and coexistence.

Please click here to read more about the foundation’s commitment to peace, democracy, and environmental regional cooperation.

About Irmgard Baum

irmgard baumBorn in 1924, Dortmund Germany, daughter of a prominent livestock dealer, Irmgard Baum was one of the last Jews to escape Nazi Germany, departing in 1941 on an unlit train into occupied France. She walked through the Pyrenees into Portugal, before escaping Europe for the U.S.

Working initially as a live-in domestic to a Jewish family, in Erie, she moved to New York City where she took up employment in Welbilt Corporation and rose to the position of Controller of this prominent appliance manufacturing company.

In her later life, Irmgard invested much time and generosity into her synagogue congregation, Temple Anshe Hesede, in Erie. A committed and active community member she created the Baum Family Endowment which today funds High Holiday music, Scholars in Residences programs, in addition to youth programs that focus on the importance of philanthropy.

In 2005, Irmgard learned about the Arava Institute through conversations and visits with students and representatives from the Arava Institute. Although suffering from a terminal illness she decided that the combination of environmental studies, research programs, and initiatives for peace in the region were important to her.

Irmgard committed $1.5 million, her assets from war reparation payments, to supporting scholarships for future students and transboundary environmental projects at the Arava Institute. Her enthusiasm lives on with the 2008 establishment of the Irmgard Baum Peace Building and Environmental Leadership Seminars.