10 November 2016
2016 Research and Innovation Day at Bethlehem University
On Thursday, November 3rd, Bethlehem University held its 2016 Research and Innovation Day. Bethlehem University faculty from all departments and disciplines turned out in large numbers to participate in this day’s activities. Twenty five faculty members presented their research projects that reflect the diversity of research in which Bethlehem University faculty are engaged. Guests representing various Palestinian Universities and a Maori scholar from New Zealand also attended and participated in the proceedings of this day. The day also featured Dr. Kais Firro, Professor of Middle Eastern History, as keynote speaker.
Research and Innovation Day provided a platform to highlight faculty accomplishments and celebrate their success stories in scholarship and research. It is considered the crowning achievement of the work of the Research Council and the Office of the Dean of Research over the last two years in building a culture of excellence in research that complies with international standards from the ground up.
In his opening remarks, Vice Chancellor Br. Peter Bray, FSC, EdD, emphasized the role Bethlehem University plays in serving the needs of the Palestinian people and mentioned that research is one of the most important ways in which Bethlehem University tries to accomplish its mission. He also stated that there should be a “focus on research because of its value for teaching,” since without research, “we cannot have teaching.”
In her remarks, Dr. Irene Hazou, Vice President for Academic Affairs, described the second part of the activities that faculty were expected to engage. She reminded faculty that as we revisit the department paradigms, we ought to examine the attributes of the Bethlehem University graduates which needed to be revised after they were first put into place in 2000.
In his welcoming remarks, Professor Jamil Khader, Dean of Research, described the importance of these research days in light of what some observers have called the “research darkness” in Palestine and the Arab world. While various reports and studies focus on the macro level—that is, the economic, financial, political, ideological, and social factors that hinder the development of a thriving culture of excellence in research in Palestine and the Arab world, he called for paying more attention to the micro level especially, the intellectual infrastructure, skills, and planning needed to train and prepare Palestinian and Arab research communities to become competitive in the world. He stated that the internationalization of Palestinian and Arab research communities has become essential, in order to produce innovative and transformative knowledge.
He also invited all participants to reflect on the “nature of the research process and the quality and impact of research [done] in Palestine and the Arab World,” and to consider the desired future of research in Palestine. He also urged participants to “revisit traditional methods of conducting research in Palestine and explore alternative paradigms and methodologies that are more relevant and appropriate to the study of Palestinian culture, history, and society at this particular historical juncture.” What we need more than ever is to chart alternative ways for the production of original and transformative knowledge that can actualize our full potential as researchers.