Birzeit University hosts American academics from PARC, explores collaboration prospects

On Monday, May 22, 2023, Birzeit University hosted a delegation from the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) to foster connections and expand research collaboration between American and Palestinian academics.

The delegation met with Birzeit University President Dr. Beshara Doumani to learn about the challenges higher education institutions face in Palestine. Dr. Doumani emphasized the significance of academic collaboration as a means to break the siege on Palestinian universities, enabling Palestinians to contribute to knowledge production on a global level.

He added, “Despite political circumstances, Birzeit University has upheld a social contract between all university components, enabling it to become a model for the Palestinian society we aspire to: a society based on shared governance, democracy and diversity.”

Penelope Mitchell, executive director of PARC, commended the efforts of Birzeit University to serve the Palestinian community through community-oriented institutes found on campus, allowing it to gain social legitimacy preceding that of American universities.

The delegation met with Birzeit University’s Right to Education Campaign coordinator, Sondos Hammad, to foster solidarity links with and learn about the campaign. They also discussed the intersectionality of Black and Palestinian struggles and potential research projects with campaign volunteers.

Later, the delegation met with Dr. Samia Botmeh, representative from the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and assistant professor in the Faculty of Business and Economics, and explored means to solidify support for strategic BDS campaigns. 

Rasha Kassis, administrator and financial coordinator of the Palestine and Arabic Studies program, introduced the delegation to the opportunities international students have at Birzeit University.
Kassis explained, “Not only does the program offer Arabic language classes and flexible courses across faculties, but it also organizes many field trips, allowing international students to explore everyday life in Palestine and to integrate into Palestinian culture.”

The delegation also held individual meetings with Birzeit University professors and researchers to develop joint research projects and strengthen links with Palestinian scholars. 
This meeting is part of an ongoing collaboration between PARC and Birzeit University, which enables American academics to collaborate with Palestinian academics and organize annual visits to Birzeit University and other higher education institutions in Palestine.

In the same context, another delegation from the center held a virtual meeting with Dr. Doumani; Dr. Abdullatif Husseini, vice president for Community affairs; and Dr. Rana Khatib, vice president for Planning and Development on May 2, 2023. They also met with representatives from BDS, the Right to Education Campaign and the Palestine and Arabic Studies program.