Michelle I. Gawerc joined Loyola in 2011. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology at Boston College in 2010. Prior to her doctoral studies, she pursued and completed an M.S.W. at Boston College and a M.A. in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.A. was an individually structured major entitled, “Prejudice and Intercultural Communication” from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Michelle has a strong scholarly interest in the ways in which peace activists in areas of chronic upheaval and violence manage to work across conflict lines and develop a strong sense of “we.” Michelle’s current research focuses on how joint peace movement organizations in Israel-Palestine are able to construct and maintain a collective identity allowing them to engage in joint action for peace. By highlighting the different missions and goals within these movement organizations and the on-going negotiation involved in the construction of a collective identity, this study seeks to enrich our understanding of how movement organizations succeed in becoming a collective actor. Moreover, this study seeks to strengthen our understanding of how groups can successfully work across deep cleavages and power asymmetries—even amidst violent and protracted conflict.
This new research project builds from her previous research on peacebuilding organizations in Israel/Palestine. This previous research, a longitudinal study of fifteen years (1993-2008), examined how non-governmental peacebuilding initiatives adapt to hostile and unfavorable environments, the challenges they face, and why some are able to adapt and survive while others do not. This study involved fieldwork, participation observation, and interviews with Palestinian and Israeli peacebuilders prior to, during, and after the Second Intifada.
Michelle has published a number of articles including “Constructing a Collective Identity across Conflict Lines: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Movement Organizations” in Mobilization; “Doing No Harm? Donor Policies and Power Asymmetry in Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding” in Peace and Change: a Peace Journal, co-authored with Ned Lazarus;“Advocating for Peace during the Gaza War” in Peace Review; “The Unintended Consequences of ‘Material Support’: US Anti-Terrorism Regulations and Israeli/Palestinian Peacebuilding” in the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, co-authored with Ned Lazarus;“Persistent Peacebuilders: Maintaining Commitment in Israel/Palestine” in the International Journal for Peace Studies; “Organizational Adaptation and Survival in Hostile and Unfavorable Environments: Peacebuilding Organizations in Israel and Palestine” in Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change; “Integrative Ties as an Approach to Managing Organizational Conflict” in Conflict Resolution Quarterly; “Peacebuilding: Theoretical and Concrete Perspectives” in Peace and Change: A Peace Journal; and “The Al-Aksa Intifada: Revealing the Chasm” in
Middle East Review of International Affairs, co-authored with Alan Dowty. A revised version of her dissertation was also recently published as a book: Prefiguring Peace: Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding Partnerships.
Michelle is a recipient of a number of honors and awards, including a United States-Israel Educational Foundation Fulbright Fellowship, a Program on Negotiation Graduate Research Fellowship from Harvard Law School, and a United Nations Memorial Fellowship Award from the American Sociological Association's Peace War and Social Conflict Section.
Michelle’s intellectual work has been driven by her dedication to peace, justice, and understanding. In the last fifteen years, she has been involved as a facilitator in Israeli-Palestinian dialogue with teachers and high school students in Israel/Palestine; in German-Polish-Jewish dialogue with young adults in Osweicim (Auschwitz), Poland; and in diversity dialogues with university and secondary school students in the United States. Beyond her involvement in peacebuilding and dialogue, Michelle has worked as a community organizer, and lived and served on both the Dine (Navajo) Reservation and in Bahia de Kino, Mexico.
At Loyola, Michelle teaches courses in sociology and global studies including: Societies and Institutions; Social Movements and Social Protest; Conflict, War, and Peace; Israel/Palestine: Conflict Narratives, Media Framing, and Peacebuilding; and Reconciliation and Justice after (and during) Violent Conflict. She believes strongly in active learning and participatory methods, so sign up for her classes, and be prepared to participate!