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Michelle Gawerc

Associate Professor of Sociology

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. consisted of an individually structured major designated as, “Prejudice and Intercultural Communication” from the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

Dr. Gawerc's book

Michelle has a strong scholarly interest in the ways in which peace activists, particularly those in areas of protracted conflict, accomplish working across conflict lines to end injustice and/or advocate for a just peace. Michelle’s current research focuses on two cross-conflict and transnational coalitions in the occupied West Bank, which involved Palestinian, Israeli, and international organizations working together to demand justice for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank. She’s exploring why and when such unusually diverse coalitions form, and how they develop and sustain themselves across substantial divides (e.g., ethno-national, ideological, and cultural). This current project builds from Michelle’s previous research, which analyzes how the two most prominent joint Palestinian-Israeli peace movement organizations were able to construct a collective identity (i.e., a sense of “we”) and build a strong solidarity allowing them to engage in joint action for peace.

Michelle has also conducted research on educationally oriented peacebuilding organizations in Israel/Palestine. The previous research is a longitudinal study of fifteen years (1993-2008) examining how non-governmental peacebuilding initiatives adapt to hostile and unfavorable environments, the challenges they face, and why some can 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.

Dr. Gawerc and Children

Michelle is a recipient of several honors and awards, including a Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation Graduate Research Fellowship, a United States-Israel Educational Foundation Fulbright Fellowship, 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. She has been involved as a facilitator in people-to-people dialogue with teachers and high school students in Israel/Palestine; in German-Polish-Jewish interchanges 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 fostering dialogue among conflicting groups, Michelle has worked as a community organizer in New York City, and has lived and served on both the Dine (Navajo) Reservation and in Bahia de Kino, Mexico.

MeetingAt Loyola, Michelle teaches courses in sociology and global studies including: Introduction to Sociology; Globalization and Society; Social Conflict; Social Movements and Social Protest; Israel/Palestine: Conflict Narratives, Media Framing, and Peacebuilding; and Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation in Divided Societies. She believes strongly in active learning and participatory methods.

Courses Taught

  • SC 100 - Introduction to Sociology
  • SC 203 - Globalization and Society
  • SC 339 - Social Conflict
  • SC 376 - Israel-Palestine: Conflict Narratives, Media Framing, and Peace-Building
  • SC 377 - Social Movements and Social Protest
  • SC 441 - Seminar: Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation in Divided Societies



Articles and book chapters