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Summer and Intersession Programs

Water, Cooperation and Peace in the Middle East


This practicum focuses on analyzing the development of peacebuilding-related motivations and expectations of Israelis and Palestinians who cooperate together on a water-energy-food nexus project in the Middle East.

AU's regional partner organizations in the Middle East are the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES - based at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel) and the Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Groups (PWEG - based in the Palestinian West Bank). Over several years, these two organizations have cooperated on wastewater-focused initiatives intent on reducing conflict and promoting dialogue through shared water management.

water project arava

Faculty Directors

Eric Abitbol

Ken Conca

Academic Details

Practicum Description

In an effort to contribute to project development, planning, monitoring and evaluation, the principal research task of the 2016 Summer Practicum team will be to analyze the development and peacebuilding-related motivations, expectations, concerns and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians who cooperate together on this water-energy-food nexus project in the Middle East.

The principal research task will be to assess the peacebuilding significance of the transboundary program's cooperative efforts. Students will become intimately familiar with transboundary water projects in the region, both theoretically and on the ground. They will meet practitioners working for NGOs as well as the beneficiary parties of transboundary water projects. They will also meet Israeli and Palestinian officials whose governance practices have bearing on water, cooperation and peace in the region. Team members will be trained in theories of environmental building, hydropolitics with an emphasis on the Middle East, rapid appraisal research methods, interviewing techniques and more. Team members will undertake desk-study and research design work in Washington, then collect data in the field through participant-observation, interviews, focus groups, and archival work at the project sites. Students will produce an environmental peacebuilding assessment in the form of a report that will be submitted to participating organizations. This report will be used to further develop their intervention methods and water management projects in the Middle East.

2016 Course Dates

The course will run approximately from 9 May to 4 August 2016. A tentative has been prepared as follows:

  • May 9 onwards: Students read intensively in preparation for their theoretical training and field work

  • May 9: First online training session

  • May 24: Second online training session

  • Weekend of May 29: Intensive weekend training at AU

  • June 8-June 21: Fieldwork in the Middle East

In June-July, students will allocate a focused period back at AU for final report preparation throughout July. A preliminary presentation of findings will take place in late July. Editing of the final report will undoubtedly extend beyond. A final presentation will be made both to partners in the region and to the AU community in September (date TBD).

Program Costs 

Expected student expenses include: AU tuition, international travel, visa fee (if applicable), and most meals. 

Accommodation and program related travel expenses are covered at no additional cost to students.

Who Should Apply

There are no specific course prerequisites but an application's competitiveness will be enhanced by showing relevant language skills, prior experience or field work in the region, coursework on or experience with water governance or water projects, and coursework, experience or skills with peace and conflict resolution. 

It will be of interest to students across the School of International Service (SIS), and in particular to Global Environmental Politics (GEP), International Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), International Politics (IP), International Development Program (IDP) and Comparative and Regional Studies (CRS). It may also be of interest to students across the University, including the Kogod School of Business and the Washington College of Law (WCL).

Practicum Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in any SIS Practicum, MA students must be in good academic standing (including a 3.0 cumulative GPA) and have completed 18 credits of graduate coursework by the end of the spring 2014 semester, prior to participating in the Practicum. Dual degree students (e.g. MA/MBA, JD/MA, and KU/MA) must have completed at least 9 of the minimum 18 credits to participate. Students from any MA program can apply to this practicum.

Application and Deadlines

The application deadline is March 1, 2016.

Click on the following Application Form link and complete the form. This web form is only the first step of the Practicum application process. Note that this form is not your complete application! Once you have submitted the form, log in to Blackboard, open the "SIS Practicum Program" site, and upload a cover letter and resume for each Practicum to which you are applying.

For more information about the application process, please contact

Once admitted to the Program students will receive notification via e-mail. At that time, students will be required to submit a non-refundable deposit of $250 to SIS, through a check or money order made payable to American University, to secure their place in the Program.

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Info Session

February 3, 4:30-5:15pm in SIS112

Application Deadline

Summer 2016: March 1, 2016;

No Rolling Admission

Apply Now!

First, fill out the Application Form. Then, go to Blackboard and log in, open the "SIS Practicum Program," and upload a Cover Letter and a Resume for each practicum to which you are applying.

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Graduate grants and scholarships

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