Second stage of Leadership and Active Citizenship Program ‘Masari’ completed

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit at Birzeit University recently completed the third round of its training of facilitators program for the Debating and Citizenship learning stations of the Leadership and Active Citizenship Program – Masari.

The training program, led by Dr. Osama Mimi, Rania Qasim, Najwan Birqdar, Huthayfa Jalaymeh, and Suhair Morar, included 60 faculty and staff members from the university, and comprised two elements: content and facilitation skills.  The training scheme is orchestrated to be highly interactive and participant-driven.

Facilitation plays a significant part in Masari’s pedagogical approach and is meant to transform the role of the trainers from being the source of knowledge to facilitators for acquiring knowledge and skill sets that can be applied in their administrative or academic jobs.

The team of facilitators will cascade the training to students for the Debating and Citizenship stations, which will begin in September 2018. In the debating station, participants learn how to develop arguments and counter arguments, how to process questions and answers, and how to organize and present their ideas clearly. Other important skills that are introduced in this station are public speaking, note-taking, evidence support, teamwork, and anticipation.

By debating, participants get the chance to practice important skills including team building, leadership, communication, listening, analysis, organizing, and documenting (learning and sharing through dialogue). Participants have to do a lot of field work, desk research, interviews, and meetings in order to complete the work.

Its companion, the citizenship station, encourages students to actively engage with their community (especially disadvantaged and underprivileged ones) and positively reinforces their social and environmental responsibilities on local, regional, and global scales.

Vice President for Administrative and Financial Affairs Dr. Mirvat Bulbul emphasized that the Masari program was launched to bolster the university’s role in developing a vision for learning and to incentivize students to plan their lives and actively engage in their communities from the first day they step foot on the university’s campus.

In its first year, the program focuses on self-exploration, self-discovery, self-awareness, and self-management through the Personal Competencies and Career Path stations; in the second year, it emphasizes the other and the community (active citizenship skills – diversity, empathy, and sharing) through the Debating and Citizenship stations.

The program culminates in the third year which focuses on the development and implementation of student-led community initiatives that stem from the students’ outlooks on Palestinian national contexts and priorities through two stations focused on design thinking and social entrepreneurship.

In this year, students utilize a human-centric designer’s toolkit to uncover new ideas and solve pressing community problems in close collaboration with community-based organizations and local government units.

George Yerousis, the director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit, noted the high level of commitment and high caliber of performance that the facilitators had, and said that more training-of-trainers workshops will be held on the social entrepreneurship and modalities that employ design thinking in developing social initiatives together with the Palestinian community.

Launched in 2017, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit at Birzeit University is a bold new vision that was institutionalized by the Office of the Vice President for Planning and Development.

The unit fosters an active campus of entrepreneurs and innovators – bolstering the university’s internal entrepreneurial ecosystem – and provides an open innovation platform for students, faculty, and staff to co-create and collaboratively work on new ideas and design and implement community initiatives.