Olive Tree Initiative

Olive Tree Initiative

The Olive Tree Initiative (OTI) is an innovative and exciting educational programme at the University of Glasgow in partnership with the University of California, Irvine.

As an experiential learning programme, we are at the cutting edge of conflict analysis education. Every year, selected junior honours students undertake one semester of academic preparation and a three week field trip to the Middle East. Through this programme, students are given a unique opportunity to gain an in-depth and holistic understanding of the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Our Mission

OTI was established in University of California Irvine in 2007 to promote ‘conflict analysis and resolution through rigorous academic preparation, experiential education and leadership development’. It expanded to the University of Glasgow in 2014. We seek not only to enhance our students’ academic understanding of the many facets of the conflict, but also enrich their personal and professional development.


Our Approach

OTI is an experiential education programme that enables students to directly interact with realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict. By focusing on narratives of conflict in the Middle East, students are able to gain a broader and deeper understanding of diverse positions held by those engaged in it. As an organisation, OTI is dedicated to an apolitical ethos and makes no political statements or policy prescriptions. Instead, we provide a space for students from a wide range of backgrounds and positions to engage in open dialogue with fellow students, university faculty and the general public. 


Aims

As a student-guided programme, we are committed to providing OTI participants with the opportunity to advance their academic and professional goals as well as the tools to do so. Through this programme, we aim to:

• Educate participants in the issues and narratives surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.
• Expose students to the complexities of the conflict and promote critical engagement and analysis.
• Empower alumni with professional skills to pursue their chosen career paths.
• Enhance personal development through engagement with alternative worldviews.
• Encourage leadership throughout the programme and collaboration with the international OTI Alumni Network.


Results

Forty students from the University of Glasgow have taken part in the Olive Tree Initiative since 2014. After OTI, many have pursued graduate studies at prestigious institutions in conflict, security, international relations, human rights and Middle Eastern studies. Through the programme, they have developed valuable and unique professional skills that have been applied to careers in public, private and civil society spheres.