Building a Shared Society - PATHWAYS

Building a shared society has become a central element of most peacebuilding efforts in Israel and Palestine. With deeply divided peoples, in one of the most complex conflicts of our lifetime, there is increasing skepticism around the possibility of a shared society among those living in the region and beyond. However, there is growing hope in organizations like PATHWAYS Institute for Negotiation Education, which has been taking tangible steps towards creating a new reality in the region through their programming.

PATHWAYS brings students, educators and social impact professionals from diverse communities in the region together for multi-day, interactive, experiential workshops to learn and apply problem solving approaches and negotiation-based methodology, which was developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project. PATHWAYS is working to build problem-solving, cooperative societies by connecting and systematically providing youth and educators from different backgrounds and communities with the confidence, skills, and shared language needed to creatively negotiate challenging issues in their personal, professional, academic, and public lives.

PATHWAYS programs build vital intra- and inter-personal skills such as empathy, understanding different perspectives, generating creative options, considering standards of fairness, and curious communication. Each workshop—tailored for community context–begins by uncovering participants’ previous assumptions about how to negotiate and takes them on a journey to explore deeply ingrained habits and pre-existing assumptions. At the same time, these workshops guide participants in discovering new methodologies to approaching conflict and communication.

A sustainable shared society cannot be fully achieved just by bringing Israeli Jews and Palestinians together (a sobering reality after the ethnic violence in mixed Jewish-Arab cities in May 2021). This is why nearly all PATHWAYS programs are conducted with partners. The organization aims to catalyze systemic change through the education system and allied organizations, including school networks, the Ministry of Education, and fellow ALLMEP member organizations. Thus, while PATHWAYS program alumni may continue to have different perspectives on various issues connected to the conflict, they are able to approach complex and/or challenging conversations via a shared language. In this way, participants are equipped with skills and tools for these encounters and are laying the foundation for a shared sense of possibility.