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Professor Explains Why History Matters at Luncheon

Sami Adwan, Ph.D., co-founder and co-director of the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME), presented “History Matters: The Road to Cross-Cultural Understanding and Reconciliation” at a recent Schemel Forum World Affairs Luncheon Seminar. The seminar series is sponsored by Munley Law.
December 7, 2017
By: Breanna Forgione ’18, student correspondent

“We are victims of our old history, our old narrative. But history is not in the past. It’s actually where we are now. We are the production of history, and this is where the forming of the individual happens,” said Sami Adwan, Ph.D., co-founder and co-director of the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME), at The University of Scranton’s Schemel Forum World Affairs Luncheon Seminar held recently on campus.

PRIME, an organization that Dr. Adwan has helped to develop, is a joint Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organization established in 1998 consisting of teachers and researchers aiming to create school history curriculums that include historical narrative textbooks.

“It’s a personal pleasure and distinct honor to welcome our speaker to the podium. He has come the furthest distance for our speaker series – he resides in Bethlehem, and I don’t mean Pennsylvania. Sami Adwan is a professor of education and taught for many years at Bethlehem University. Last year, he spent his sabbatical year at a university in Sweden and is known internationally for his work with PRIME, an educational model igniting Palestinian and Israeli educators. Sami is a pioneer in his field and an inspiration to others who recognize our interdependence on this planet and find ways to engage across borders and boundaries,” said Sondra Myers, director of the University’s Schemel Forum.

Dr. Adwan discussed the relevance of history today, emphasizing the importance of history narratives over facts when it comes to teaching this subject.

“There is no end to history – it is a continual digging and remembering of the past and is filtered by subjective reality and interests. There are facts in history, but the narrative is what we consider to be important to remember from them. It’s a matter of selection and priority, highlighting the why and the how,” said Dr. Adwan. 

The professor also examined the purposes of teaching history and how teachers should find a balance between personal desires versus political ones in the classroom.

“Mainly, the purposes of teaching history in times of open conflict are to sustain the conflict, justify self wrong-doings, support political actions, remain united, and guard interests and ideologies,” said Dr. Adwan.

Aside from his work as a professor and with PRIME, Dr. Adwan has published widely on Palestinian education and on the role of education in peace-building. He is also a co-author of Side by Side: Parallel Histories of Israel-Palestine.

The World Affairs Luncheon Seminar series is sponsored by Munley Law.

Breanna Forgione ’18, Levittown, is a strategic communication major at The University of Scranton.
Breanna Forgione ’18, Levittown, is a strategic communication major at The University of Scranton.
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