International Conference on Rural Development Held at Birzeit University

Birzeit University’s Architectural Engineering Department opened on April 28, 2014 an international scientific congress entitled: "Rural areas: challenges and aspirations between conservatism and development." The conference is part of an academic cooperation program with Graz University of Technology in Austria, and the APPEAR project, which aims at capacity building in the field of Palestinian rural development and planning.

Conference coordinator and professor of architectural engineering Yazeed Rifai said that the conference aims to discuss issues related to agricultural land preservation, the rural landscape, and management of natural resources.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Henry Giacaman said that Birzeit University and the Architectural Engineering Department are interested in developing and maintaining Palestinian rural areas.

"Through its faculties, centers and institutes, Birzeit University is working on holding international scientific conferences to provide an interactive platform for discussion and knowledge exchange,” he said.

Ministry of Local Government Director of Planning Azzam Hejoj said that the ministry plays a big role in rural by activating development projects in marginalized areas and through joint services centers.

Representative of Graz University, Professor Gregor Doichinov, praised the fruitful cooperation between the two universities. "The conference aims to arrive at a set of recommendations and findings on rural development in Palestine, to be compiled in a scientific book and used as a reference for those concerned Institutions as part of Birzeit’s role in community development and state-building."

This two-day conference ended on April 29, 2014, and featured scientific working papers, seminars, panel discussions and lectures by distinguished experts in rural development, most notably President of the European Council of Landscape Architecture (ECLAS) Professor Simon Bell, and author of "Town Planning under Military Occupation" Professor Anthony Coon.