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 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.
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.
At 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 Frequently 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
Prefiguring Peace: Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding Partnerships, Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group - Lexington Books division; 2012.
Select journal articles and book chapters:
- "Cooperation and Conflict Across Ideological and Strategic Divides: Sumud Freedom Camp Coalition in the Occupied West Bank," Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research 48(10), 1-20; 2023.
- "Constructing a Sense of 'We' Across the Lines of Conflict and Occupation: Joint Peace Movement Organizations in Israel/Palestine" in the Handbook of Sociology and the Middle East, edited by Fatma Müge Göçek & Gamze Evcimen. I.B. Tauris; 2022.
- "The Centrality of Difference in Coalition-Building Across Divides: Palestinian, Israeli, and International Organizations in the Occupied West Bank," Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest 9(2), 20-48; 2021.
- "William A. Gamson and his Legacy for Academia and Social Movements," co-author David S. Meyer, Contention: The Multidisciplinary Journal of Social Protest 9(2), 64-86; 2021.
- "Coalition-Building and the Forging of Solidarity Across Difference and Inequality," Sociology Compass 15(3), 1-14; 2021.
- "Diverse Social Coalitions: Prospects and Challenges," Sociology Compass 14(1), 1-15; 2020.
- "Endeavoring to Change History: Palestinian-Led Transnational Coalitions in the Occupied West Bank," Bringing Down Divides: Special Issue of Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change Commemorating the Work of Gregory Maney 1967-2017 43, 39-61; 2019.
- "Building Solidarity Across Asymmetrical Risks: Israeli and Palestinian Peace Activists," Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change 42, 87-112; 2018.
- "Promoting Peace While Memorializing the Fallen," Peace Review 30(3), 55-363; 2018.
- "Solidarity is in the Heart, Not in the Field: Joint Israeli-Palestinian Peace Movement Organizations during the 2014 Gaza War," Social Movement Studies 16(5), 520-534; 2017.
- "Constructing a Collective Identity across Conflict Lines: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Movement Organizations," Mobilization: An International Quarterly 21(2), 193-212; 2016.
- "Doing No Harm? Donor Policies and Power Asymmetry in Israeli-Palestinian Peacebuilding," co-author Ned Lazarus, Peace and Change: a Peace Journal 41(3), 386-397; 2016.
- "Advocating for Peace during the Gaza War," Peace Review 28(1), 108-113; 2016.
- "The Unintended Consequences of 'Material Support': US Anti-Terrorism Regulations and Israeli/Palestinian Peacebuilding," co-author Ned Lazarus, Journal of Peacebuilding and Development 10(2), 68-73; 2015.
- "Persistent Peacebuilders: Maintaining Commitment in Israel/Palestine," International Journal for Peace Studies 20(1), 35-50; 2015.
- "Organizational Adaptation and Survival in Hostile and Unfavorable Environments: Peacebuilding Organizations in Israel and Palestine," Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change 36, 167-202; 2013.
- "Integrative Ties as an Approach to Managing Organizational Conflict," Conflict Resolution Quarterly 31(2), 219-225; 2013.
- "Peacebuilding: Theoretical and Concrete Perspectives," Peace and Change: A Peace Journal 31(4), 435-478; 2006.