UVA To Host National Experts on Enabling Difficult Conversations on Israel, Palestine

Enabling Difficult Conversations Poster


At a volatile time on college campuses, two Dartmouth College professors have emerged as leading voices on how to create space for civil and respectful conversations that aim to lower the temperature of the debate.

Tarek El-Ariss, Dartmouth’s chair of Middle Eastern studies, and Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth’s chair of Jewish studies, will bring their expertise to the University of Virginia at an event titled “Enabling Difficult Conversations” on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in Nau Hall room 101.

Christa Acampora, UVA’s Buckner W. Clay Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will moderate.

“Professors El-Ariss and Heschel have been doing vital work for many years, and it’s a privilege to have them share their expertise with the UVA community,” Acampora, who also chairs UVA’s Task Force on Religious Diversity and Belonging, said.

The public event is part of a full day of meetings, including sessions for students and faculty seeking to learn about the pair’s approach.

“What I have found most inspiring as an educator is how they frame and understand their pedagogical aims – to enable students to think critically, listen deeply and learn collaboratively,” Acampora said. “They have been teaching together and having conversations with students, faculty and each other about Israel and Palestine for years, which has burnished their reputation as offering a model for how to bring multiple viewpoints into a shared conversation in which disagreement can run deep.

“We have much to learn from them, and from each other. I’m honored to invite the entire community to participate.”

El-Ariss and Heschel will share their experiences of co-teaching a course at Dartmouth, as well as their broader perspectives on how to enable difficult conversations on Israel and Palestine on college campuses.

A catered reception will follow the “Enabling Difficult Conversations” discussion.