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.
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. 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). She’s also exploring how coalitional strategy is developed, and how tactics are diffused and adapted for use elsewhere.
Michelle’s previous research, from which the current project builds, analyzes how the two most prominent joint Palestinian-Israeli peace movement organizations are 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
Publications include her book, Prefiguring Peace: Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding Partnerships, and a number of scholarly articles including: "Endeavoring to Change History: Palestinian-Led Transnational Coalitions in the Occupied West Bank" in Bringing Down Divides: Special Issue of Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change Commemorating the Work of Gregory Maney 1967-2017; “Building Solidarity Across Asymmetrical Risks: Israeli and Palestinian Peace Activists” in Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change; “Promoting Peace While Memorializing the Fallen” in Peace Review; "Solidarity is in the Heart, Not in the Field: Joint Israeli-Palestinian Peace Movement Organizations during the 2014 Gaza War" in Social Movement Studies; “Constructing a Collective Identity across Conflict Lines: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Movement Organizations” in Mobilization: An International Quarterly; “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.
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 and justice. 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 discourses with university and secondary school students in the United States. Beyond her involvement in peacebuilding and fostering dialogue among opposing groups, Michelle has worked as a community organizer, living and serving 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.