Heidelberg Center for the Environment (HCE)
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HCE Team


Registration open! Information see below

Time and location

22nd - 29th July 2019, 09 a.m. - 02 p.m.

Location will be announced

Registration and contact

Link to the course page on the information system "lsf"

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Block Course Water Conflicts

Taught by Prof. Itay Fishhendler

A bi-national workshop entitled “Transboundary Water Conflict Resolution: The Israeli-Arab Case” will be held by Prof. Itay Fishhendler, Ph.D. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) from 22nd July to 29th July 2019. It will take the form of a week-long transdisciplinary academic seminar. Bachelor, Master and Graduate Students of all disciplines are welcome.  Please inquiry your faculty about possibility of ECTS accreditation. 

Transboundary Water Conflict Resolution: The Israeli-Arab Case

The block course integrates all three disciplines – political geography, political science and conflict resolution – and brings together students from the Center for Jewish Studies and Heidelberg University. The course is part of two ongoing initiatives that tie together all of the disciplines engaged in the environmental research at Heidelberg University – the first one combining a wide range of environmental perspectives including natural sciences, social sciences and cultural studies at the Heidelberg Center for the Environment and the second one relating to the cooperation between the Center for Jewish Studies and the Institute for Political Science. 

Jordan River and Kfar-Hanasi bridge

Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikimedia/Beivushtang

Jordan River and Kfar-Hanasi bridge

Itay Fishhendler

Prof. Fishhendler is a leading scholar on transboundary water institutions and Middle East water issues. He has published more than 33 peer-reviewed articles in the leading journals on public policy, conflict resolution, peace studies, geography, ecological economics and environmental issues. He has also conducted water conflict case studies in a range of locations including the Jordan basin, the Mountain Aquifer, the Rio Grande, the Colorado, and the Rhine. In addition, Prof. Fishhendler has analyzed global databases of water treaties in order to explore patterns of treaty negotiations and implementation. Moreover, he has taken part in numerous water projects funded by international and domestic agencies, including two large FP7 projects that explore conflicts over natural resources. Prof. Fishhendler has also taught courses on water conflicts at the Hebrew University, the University of California at Berkeley as well as for students from the University of Toronto.

Description and Structure of the Block Course

The focus of the workshop lies on the role of water in contributing to and resolving regional conflicts, as exemplified by the case of Israel and the Arab countries. Exploring how water becomes a source of tension and how this friction is resolved requires an interdisciplinary perspective combining expertise from political geography, political science and conflict resolution.
The syllabus of the block course is structured in a manner that will allow students to become familiar with both the theoretical dimension of water conflicts and the practical part of this topic. The course is divided into 15 discrete classes that will be delivered during a period of six days. The first part of the course will cover social science theories on why some natural resources are vulnerable to conflicts. The second part of the course will familiarize students with the geopolitical and physical setting of the Israeli-Arab water conflict. In the third and main part of the course, students will examine the analytical tools necessary to overcome water conflicts. In both the first and the third part of the course, in addition to focusing on the Israeli-Arab case, students will become familiar with other case studies as well, including the water conflicts along the US-Mexico border; the Rhine and the Great Lakes. This comparative angle aims to provide students with a better understanding of the effectiveness, efficiency and political feasibility of a wide-range of technological, legal and institutional mechanisms to resolve transboundary water conflicts. Finally, the end of the course is dedicated to a conflict resolution simulation.

Overview of the sessions:

Session 1: The Global Water and Food Crisis
Session 2: Why Water and Natural Resources Require Management
Session 3: Water as a Tool by the Zionist Movement and Regional Transboundary Dependencies
Session 4: The Palestinian Perspective
Session 5: The Israeli Perspective, Watching a Film on the IL-PI Conflict and Discussion
Session 6: Solutions to the Ongoing Conflict: The Cost-Sharing of Water Infrastructure and Unilateral Environmentalism
Session 7: Solutions to the Ongoing Conflict: The Role of Issue Linkages
Session 8: Solutions to the Ongoing Conflict: The Role of Creative jargon and allocation design 
Session 9: Students presentations
Session 10: The role in ambiguity in treaty design
Session 11: Simulation of Conflict Resolution
Session 12: Final Exam 

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Latest Revision: 2019-04-02
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