Interdisziplinäres Seminar zum Thema „Transboundary Water Conflict Resolution: The Israeli-Arab Case”
The block course integrates all three disciplines – political geography, political science and conflict resolution – and brings together students from the Center for Jewish Studies and Heidelberg University. The course is part of two ongoing initiatives that tie together all of the disciplines engaged in the environmental research at Heidelberg University – the first one combining a wide range of environmental perspectives including natural sciences, social sciences and cultural studies at the Heidelberg Center for the Environment and the second one relating to the cooperation between the Center for Jewish Studies and the Institute for Political Science.
We have merged these two transdisciplinary initiatives with our commitment to strengthen cooperation with our privileged cooperation partner, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and to further German-Israeli scientific exchange. The newly established collaboration between the two universities has just been initiated with a course on energy politics taught by Prof. Dr. Jale Tosun (Institute for Political Science, Heidelberg University) in the summer term of 2016 at the Hebrew University. In addition, the two universities are currently engaged in submitting a joint DFG proposal on the role of urgency in environmental planning as well as a proposal for the establishment of a Minerva Center for energy and sustainability.
The focus of the workshop lies on the role of water in contributing to and resolving regional conflicts, as exemplified by the case of Israel and the Arab countries. Exploring how water becomes a source of tension and how this friction is resolved requires an interdisciplinary perspective combining expertise from political geography, political science and conflict resolution.
The syllabus of the block course is structured in a manner that will allow students to become familiar with both the theoretical dimension of water conflicts and the practical part of this topic. The course is divided into 15 discrete classes that will be delivered during a period of seven days. The first part of the course will cover social science theories on why some natural resources are vulnerable to conflicts. The second part of the course will familiarize students with the geopolitical and physical setting of the Israeli-Arab water conflict. In the third and main part of the course, students will examine the analytical tools necessary to overcome water conflicts. In both the first and the third part of the course, in addition to focusing on the Israeli-Arab case, students will become familiar with other case studies as well, including the water conflicts along the US-Mexico border; the Rhine and the Great Lakes. This comparative angle aims to provide students with a better understanding of the effectiveness, efficiency and political feasibility of a wide-range of technological, legal and institutional mechanisms to resolve transboundary water conflicts. Finally, the end of the course is dedicated to a conflict resolution simulation.