University architecture majors address sustainable development issues in Artas, Bethlehem

Birzeit University architectural engineering students joined peers from local and international universities in developing solutions to boost the local economy in Artas, Bethlehem, as part of an online course organized by the University of Nürtingen-Geislingen in Germany. 

The course is part of the Middle East Social Innovation Lab, an initiative funded by the German Academic Exchange Service that focuses on social innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East and Europe. It brought together students and academics from the University of Nürtingen-Geislingen, the German Jordanian University, the American University of Beirut, Palestine Polytechnic University, and Al-Quds University, in addition to staff from the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature in Jordan. 

As part of the course, Birzeit University students cooperated with other participants on designing initiatives to stimulate and advance sustainable development in Artas, focusing on boosting local businesses in the area through eco-tourism programs. They studied the local area, identified the sustainable development issues therein, and developed creative solutions to the problems. Overall, 40 students from various universities participated in the online course. 

Additionally, Dr. Samar Alnazer, Dr. Salem Thawaba, Sara Khasib, and Dalia Harhash, from Birzeit University’s Department of Architectural Engineering, gave lectures to local and international students on eco- and sustainable-development practices. 

“It was an amazingly enriching experience for both students and instructors,” said Dr. Alnazer. “Birzeit University students were especially active, showing a great sense of responsibility, hard work,  and creativity.” 

This is the third social innovation course in which Birzeit University students and academics participate. Previously, they engaged in workshops and courses on developing sustainable development solutions to issues in Jordan and Germany. The fourth course in the series will focus on Beirut as a case study in social innovation.