Spain 2013

The Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution

3 Credits   August 16-24, 2013  

Price: $3,995


Please Email the following items to Michelle Everson at

  1. Your Resume

  2. A Letter of Interest explaining: why the trip is important to you and your qualifications for participating in an advanced practice course 

  3. Contact information of Two References

Description:Historian David Wasserstein, an Israeli teaching at Vanderbilt, wrote a politically provocative essay, How Islam Saved the Jews. In essence, by the early seventh
century Judaism was in crisis, its small population dispersed and culturally almost non-
existent. The future seemed clear: extinction in the west, decline to obscurity in the east.
Salvation came from Arabia. Islam conquered the entire Persian empire and most of
the Mediterranean world. Uniting virtually all the world’s Jews in a single state, it gave
them legal and religious respectability, economic and social freedoms, and linguistic and
cultural conditions that made possible a major renaissance of Judaism and the Jews.
This CRDC study course in historical tourism will focus on the outstanding example
of Muslim-Jewish symbiosis in the medieval Mediterranean, Muslim Spain. Students
will visit Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba and Granada. We will explore the sites in which the
great Maimonides and Averroes flourished, the spectacular mosques and gardens that
reflected the delicate artistry of Arab Islamic architecture and craftsmanship. We will see
the scientific products of collaborative Muslim-Jewish-Christian research in medicine,
astronomy, engineering and mathematics. And the birth of secular Jewish poetry modeled on Arabic poetic design. We will learn how Muslim religious spirituality influenced the evolution of its Jewish counterpart. And we will ask how recovering the memory of this extraordinary Jewish-Muslim creative coexistence could contribute to a vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Please view this short video featuring messages of interfaith coexistence presented by Search for Common Ground Interfaith

Eligibility: Creative Coexistence is open to all Mason and non-Mason Bachelors, MS and PhD students as a 3 credit course and to non-students as a professional development seminar.  Mason students can take the course as CONF 695, or 385.

Program Fee: The Course fee of $3,995 covers 3 credits, double-occupancy hotel rooms for 8 nights, 2 meals per day, in-country ground transportation, cultural excursions, entrance fees, and course trainers and speakers costs.  IT DOES NOT COVER AIRFARE.


Course Instructors: 

Joseph Montville is the Director of the Program on Healing Historical Memory at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University. He is also director of the Abrahamic Family Reunion, the Esalen Institute project to promote Muslim-Christian-Jewish reconciliation.  He is also Senior Adviser on Interfaith Relations at Washington National Cathedral, and is Distinguished Diplomat in Residence at American University. Montville founded the preventive diplomacy program at Washington, DC’s  Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1994 and directed it until 2003. Before that he spent 23 years as a diplomat with posts in the Middle East and North Africa. He also worked in the State Department’s Bureaus of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and Intelligence and Research, where he was chief of the Near East Division and director of the Office of Global Issues. Montville has held faculty appointments at the Harvard and University of Virginia Medical Schools. He defined the concept of “Track Two,” nonofficial diplomacy. Educated at Lehigh, Harvard, and Columbia Universities, Montville is the editor of Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies (Lexington Books, 1990) and editor (with Vamik Volkan and Demetrios Julius) of The Psychodynamics of International Relationships (Lexington Books, 1990 [vol. I], 1991 [vol. II]). His most recent book is History as Prelude: Muslims and Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean, (Lexington Books, 2011). In 2008, the International Society of Political Psychology gave Montville its Nevitt Sanford Award for “distinguished professional contribution to political psychology,” at its 31st annual scientific meeting in Paris.

Aziz Abu Sarah is the Co-Executive Director at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution.  He won the Intercultural Innovation award from the UN Alliance of Civilizations and was also named as a National Geographic emerging explorer in 2011. In 2009, he co-founded Middle East Justice and Development Initiative (MEJDI TOURS) to use as a bridge between conflict resolution and business. He is a lecturer and has spoken in hundreds of churches, synagogues and mosques on the subjects of peace, reconciliation, and interfaith dialogue. He is also an expert on Middle East conflict dynamics, Islamic conflict resolution, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, and the Arab Spring. He has lectured and facilitated meetings for countless international organizations and universities, including Harvard, Georgetown, Columbia, Princeton, Yale, the European Parliament, and the United Nations. Aziz is a columnist for Alquds Newspaper and is a regular contributor for, a new Israeli online English magazine. He has published articles in the New York Times, Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Alarabiya, the Daily Star and others. He regularly provides analysis for television news programs such as Al-Jazeera, CNN and Fox. Aziz co-hosted a radio show in Jerusalem for 3 years with tens of thousands of listeners from around world including the US. He has been honored to receive the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East from the Institute of International Education, the Silver Rose Award from the European Parliament, the Eisenhower Medallion from the People to People International, and the  Eliav-Sartawi Award for Middle Eastern Journalism from Search for Common Ground.

For recent news and articles by Aziz, go here

***** Questions? Please email Michelle Everson at or call (703) 993-4473*****