A delegation of Wayne State University representatives is in the Middle East to establish new and implement existing partnerships with universities and hospitals in the region. This is the third trip to the Middle East for Wayne State staff in just over a year. The delegation, including Provost Ron Brown, the university’s chief academic officer, left for Israel on Oct. 29 and plans to return Nov. 4 with commitments from several institutions in Israel and Palestine to establish programs with Wayne State.
“Wayne State University’s mission includes preparing students to excel in an increasingly advanced and interconnected global society,” said Brown. “We also possess expertise that can benefit others around the world. This trip will further our efforts in both regards.”
A team from the Wayne State University School of Medicine consisting of Valerie M. Parisi; M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., dean; Maryjean Schenk, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., vice dean for Medical Education; and William Lyman, Ph.D., professor and Associate Chair of pediatrics and director of the Children’s Research Center of Michigan, will continue talks with several medical centers in Israel and Palestine about implementing exchange programs for students, residents, fellows, graduate students and faculty.
“The opportunity to study diseases, treatment modalities and medical delivery systems in the Middle East can translate into enhanced understanding of medical, cultural and social issues that ultimately will help School of Medicine students and faculty to develop and provide more holistic care for our local Jewish and Arab populations,” Dean Parisi said.
Ultimately, Dr. Lyman, who used to live in Israel, hopes to work with the National Institutes of Health to establish a newborn screening program in Palestine.
“We’d like to establish a program like we have in Michigan,” he said. “This would provide valuable information for the treatment of childhood diseases and give families information about future births.”
The School of Medicine representatives will meet with colleagues at Al Quds University in the West Bank, with whom they signed a memorandum of understanding during last June’s visit; Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, a Hebrew University Medical School-affiliated hospital; Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center (Jerusalem), also affiliated with the Hebrew University Medical School; HaEmek Medical Center, a Technion medical school-affiliated hospital in north-central Israel; and The Rappaport Faculty of Medicine/Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
The School of Medicine’s initial goal is to begin medical student exchanges in April 2011.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, represented by Dean Robert Thomas and Associate Dean Miriam Greenberg, will work with Provost Brown to build on an initiative in which 15 Muslim, Jewish and Christian Wayne State students have participated in a Middle East study-abroad program the past two summers.
“Our students were profoundly moved by their experiences,” Greenberg said. “When you look at the Middle East, I think the problem is a lack of communication. I think that’s true here at home, too. When people on different sides of the fence talk to each other and stop viewing others as the problem, then something positive can happen.”
To that end, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ long-term goal is the creation of an International Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy, in bilateral partnership to start, with universities in Israel and the West Bank. The delegation will also continue talks with Hebrew, Ben Gurion, Al Quds and Bethlehem universities.
“While many universities sponsor summer courses in Israel, very few, if any, challenge students to confront the issues facing both the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Dean Thomas said.
One of the visit’s goals is to firm up faculty exchanges with Ben Gurion and Al Quds universities and to host an international diplomacy conference at Wayne State next summer.
“We think that in many respects the Detroit area shares the Middle Eastern demographics,” Dean Thomas said. “With a half a million Arabs and a correspondingly large Jewish population surrounding our campus, our students are representative of that part of the world. It is important that we all view issues locally as well as globally, and create a model for constructive dialogue.”