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Education Research Team Heads to Israel/Palestine for Peace Project

PULLMAN, Wash.-There is more to Israel/Palestine than conflict; many people there are working hard for peace. Teachers who want their students to learn that lesson will soon have help, thanks to a Washington State University College of Education faculty member.

Associate Professor Michael Hayes, working with colleagues from the University of Idaho and University of Hawaii, will visit the troubled region for a month this summer to begin work on a curriculum that will focus on peace efforts. Travel for their 13-member team, which includes a WSU student, will be funded with a $79,000 Fulbright-Hays Group Study Abroad grant.

The group will create written materials, a documentary video, and online media that provide a balanced and broad perspective. The curriculum will be designed for American students in sixth through 12th grades.

Hayes, who will oversee video production, is interested in globalization and international education. "I explore issues relating to peace, social justice and sustainability," he said, describing the Israel/Palestine project as a stepping stone to other international curriculum projects. He hopes to find funding that will allow creation of an in-depth educational Web site.

Hayes' co-investigator on the Fulbright-Hays project is Melissa Saul, a curriculum and instruction faculty member at the University of Idaho. Saul is writing a dissertation about international peace education efforts in Israel/Palestine. Paul Deering, an associate professor in the University of Hawaii at Manoa is also involved with the project. He is an expert in middle-school instruction.

A curriculum specialist from the State of Washington Office of Public Instruction is part of the team going to the Middle East. The other travelers are teachers, professors who specialize in the region and university students, including Jessica Rinker, a WSU secondary education major with a passion for peace studies. The fifth-year senior has envisioned setting aside money for travel in future summers, so that she could visit historic places and make videos to share with her high school students.

"This program provides a good foundation for my goals as a teacher," said Rinker, daughter of Kathy Rinker of Yakima. "I'll be working with people who have already made educational videos. I've always wanted to go to the Middle East, but never felt educated enough about the people to visit on my own."

Fulbright-Hays grants are administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The Group Study Abroad program supports training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students and faculty engaged in a common endeavor. Projects involving Arabic-speaking countries and K-12 curriculum were given priority this year, Hayes said.

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