Scholars from the University of Notre Dame and two Israeli universities came together for an interdisciplinary workshop titled “International collaborative workshop at the nexus of water, disease transmission, and armed conflict in Jerusalem, Israel.” The event was hosted March 11-14, 2019 at the Jerusalem Global Gateway at Tantur.
The workshop was held with a grant from the Global Gateway Faculty Research Awards program. More than twenty faculty members and postdocs from Notre Dame, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem attended the workshop, which was composed of six sessions spread out over four days. In addition, they attended breakout sessions on the topics of water management and scarcity, water quality and quantity, public health, and water, migration, and conflict. Attendees were impressed by the collaborative nature of the workshop.
“The workshop showed that when academics do not compete over disciplinary validity, great discussions and projects with potential will follow,” says Rahul Oka, research associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Keough School of Global Affairs.
Figuring out the water flow rate in Hezekiah's Tunnel
The group also had the chance to explore historical and contemporary realities of water use in the region. On a walking tour of ancient Jerusalem, they viewed the intricate water systems that have served this crossroads over the ages. In the Jordan River Valley, they witnessed the dramatic decline of the Dead Sea. At the site of Jesus’ baptism on the Jordan River, the group learned about the significance of the river as well as its profound ecological challenges. Drawing on the partnerships of the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development in the area, the Notre Dame contingent also visited Palestinian faculty and researchers in Bethlehem before the workshop began, laying the groundwork for future joint endeavors.
“It felt amazing to bridge disciplinary divides at the footsteps of Jesus,” says Marc Muller, assistant professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences.
The workshop was spearheaded by Pat Regan, a professor of Political Science and Peace Studies who oversees the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN). A program within the Notre Dame Environmental Change Initiative, ND-GAIN works to enhance the world’s understanding of adaptation through knowledge, products, and services that inform public and private actions, and investments in vulnerable communities.
“Notre Dame International and the Jerusalem Global Gateway provided a forum and space by which a group of cross-disciplinary scholars engaged in discussions around environmental and social dynamics that speak to some of the more vexing issues of the day,” says Regan.
For more information on hosting conferences or events in Jerusalem, contact Hannah Hemphill.
The Jerusalem Global Gateway at Tantur encourages students, faculty, scholars, and pilgrims to deepen their worldview by experiencing firsthand the richness and complexity of life in the Middle East. Since its inception in 2014, the Jerusalem Global Gateway has collaborated with academic, diplomatic, governmental, and religious partners to provide scholarly, social, spiritual, and service-learning opportunities.