Palestinian youth voice their opinions in fourth Idea Factory conference

Students, graduates, and professors from Birzeit University engaged in discussion over several issues relevant to Palestinian youth in the fourth Idea Factory Student Conference, entitled “Made at Birzeit - Organic Thought,” on Saturday, September 29, 2018. 

Noura Sammar, coordinator of the Idea Factory, and Dr. Mudar Kassis, director of the Windsor-Birzeit Dignity Initiative and the Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, welcomed the participants and commenced the conference’s sessions, with the first, entitled “Commoditization of the Public Sphere,” chaired by Salem Thawaba, a professor of architecture. 

The first paper, by Ghadeer Barakat, was entitled “The Bridge Toward the World of Finance,” in which she discussed the role of human characteristics in finance, and the impact of finance on humanity as a whole. The second paper, by Mo’ayad Najjar, was entitled “A State of Dissonance: The Streets of Ramallah,” in which he explored the role of streets in defining the public sphere, and the hegemony that commercial entities practice in such areas. 

The fourth paper of the session, entitled “The Right to the City in a Five-Star Hotel,” was presented Nadia Tadros. In the paper, she traced the historical roots of the right to the city, and presented examples of how the people of Ramallah were deprived of that right, in addition to ways by which they could counter such practices. 

The second session of the conference, entitled “Consuming a Culture That Consumes Us,” was chaired by Amani Sarahni, the media coordinator at the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, and comprised four papers. 

The first paper, by Faris Al Jamal, was entitled “Academic Integrity: Between Ignorance and Marginality,” in which he explored academic integrity at Birzeit University and conducted surveys with students and faculty members. The second paper, by Majd Hithnawi, was entitled “Is the Two-State Solution Still Viable According to Chomsky,” in which she chronicled two interviews she held with Naom Chomsky on the Palestinian cause. This paper was followed by Rawan Rajabi’s “What Makes Palestinian Intellectuals Engaged,” in which she looked into the motives and interests of Palestinian intellectuals and reviewed the concept of being an intellectual.

The final paper of the conference, entitled “Youth Assemblies - Jerusalem as an Example,” by Duha Shwaiki, examined the reasons behind the rise in popularity of youth assemblies. The paper, using Jerusalem as a case study, took note of the social, economic, and political reasons that led to youth engagement with assemblies. 

The conference also included an arts exhibition, during which Sarahni and Fouad Al-Yamani presented their paintings, which took inspiration from olive trees in Hebron and the fight against depression, respectively.  

The Idea Factory is a student initiative established at Birzeit University in 2014 under the Windsor Birzeit Dignity Initiative. It constitutes a part of Birzeit University’s mission to develop and advance the Palestinian community.