The plan, relying largely on outside financing, includes a liberal arts honors college and a master’s degree program in teaching, both located at Al Quds and granting joint degrees, as well as a model high school to serve as an educational laboratory. The starting date for the first two is September; the high school is to open in 2010.
Nothing like this has ever been tried in Palestinian education, and controversy is expected.
Bard anticipates complaints from some American Jews unhappy because Al Quds is a Palestinian institution partly in Jerusalem — which many Jews consider the indivisible capital of Israel — and because Al Quds is no stranger to radical Palestinian politics. Meanwhile, Al Quds expects some Palestinians to resent the endeavor as vaguely colonialist. And the collaboration by two such disparate institutions is bound to be complicated.
“In Palestinian schools, students are taught the so-called right answer to every question,” Mukhles Sowwan, who runs the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at Al Quds University, said. “But real education is more about questions than answers. We need to teach our students how to think creatively and critically, and I hope Bard will help us with that.”