(Guest Post) Peacemaker in My Class: Dr. Ronit Kampf

I am teaching at the Department of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. My course compares online and face-to-face coexistence activities aimed at bridging between young people living on different sides of the political, ethnic and religious divides in the Middle East. This course is based upon 3 years of work as a postdoc student at the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University.

Given that my course examines peace building processes among Israeli and Palestinian youths, I thought to let my students explore how Peacemaker can be utilized for this purpose. In order to learn more deeply about Peacemaker, the students played the game a few times. Then we analyzed various apsects of Peacemaker such as photos and videos used to capture events, startegies that can be taken by the Israeli prime minister and by the Palestinian president to achieve peace, and the design of the Israeli version vs. the Palestinian version.

After learning more about the game, my students had to decide how they want to use Peacemaker in their final class assignment. One student decided to run the game among Israeli-Jew and Palestinian high school pupils from East and West Jerusalem. She wants to examine how the game impacts attitudes toward the complexity of the conflict and toward the “other side”. Another student chose to run the game among Israeli and American students in order to estimate the impact of knowledge about the conflict on playing Peacemaker. Two of my students analyze the photos used in the game in order to explore how Israelis and Palestinians are represented in Peacemaker. Another student develops an activity that can be conducted among high school pupils before and after playing the game. After my students submit their final class assignments on March 2008, we can publish short posts about them.

For the aforementioned class assignments, I developed a platform together with Tom Calthrop from Barnraiser, a Swedish based non-profit organization dedicated to giving people the tools they need to share knowledge and advance society through social software. This platform includes a discussion forum, a resource center and a notes wall. The students contribute information to this platform and further elaborate it as they make progress in their work.

All the aforementioned process could not happen without the team that created Peacemaker and the Peres Center for Peace that distributed copies of the game in Israel and the West Bank.