Promoting peace, the Just Jerusalem competition

March 2, 2007

CAMBRIDGE, MA---MIT announces today the launch of "Just Jerusalem," a competition that invites participants worldwide to submit urban plans and other creative works to help transform Jerusalem into a more peaceful residence. An international panel of diplomats, researchers and professionals will jury the competition. The winning participants will be awarded fellowships at MIT for up to a semester, a prize that includes travel, food, lodging, and a stipend.

"We are thrilled to announce the launch of this visionary competition because it offers an opportunity to better urban conditions in one of the world's most challenging and historic cities," said Diane Davis, professor of political sociology and associate dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT. "The competition's goal is to move beyond the nation-state level of the conflict and reflect on the problems of daily livability, the right to the city, and citizenship in Jerusalem."

The Just Jerusalem competition is structured to reward ideas and innovations produced from within a variety of disciplines, ranging from economics and political science to engineering, architecture and planning, and the arts. Winners of the competition will become fellows at MIT. These fellowships will enable the winning innovators to further develop their creative works by drawing on technological and scholarly resources, and meeting with diplomats, venture capitalists and respected global leaders in science, technology, and politics to discuss the implementation of their ideas.

The competition was born out of a unique project called Jerusalem 2050, which brings together Palestinian and Israeli scholars, activists, business leaders, youth, and others to discuss unconventional approaches toward solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Davis co-directs Jerusalem 2050 with Leila Farsakh, assistant professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston and research affiliate at the Center for International Studies at MIT.

"The MIT Jerusalem project is an adventure in futurist planning. It could prove to be a visionary breakthrough in transcending the impasse in the current situation," said Salim Tamari, director of the Institute for Jerusalem Studies and professor of sociology at Birzeit University, and jury member of the Just Jerusalem competition. Tamari attended a Jerusalem 2050 Visionaries conference two years ago along with more than thirty researchers from American, European, Israeli, and Palestinian universities. It was at this conference that the groundwork for such a competition was laid.

"MIT prides itself on identifying and trying to solve some of the world's most intractable problems. In Jerusalem, we have embraced one of our greatest challenges yet," said Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at MIT.

About the competition
Registration for the Just Jerusalem competition opens March 2, 2007, through the Jerusalem 2050 web site at Here participants will find guidelines for the competition and all related materials.

The submission deadline is December 31, 2007. The winners will be announced in Spring 2008.

Jury Members
(full biographies are located on the Just Jerusalem web site at

Ute Meta Bauer, associate professor and director of the visual arts program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Meron Benvenisti, political scientist and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem

Manuel Castells, professor of sociology and professor of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley

Harvey Cox, Jr., Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School 

Herman Hertzberger, architect and guest teacher at universities and architectural institutes worldwide

William J. Mitchell, professor of architecture and media arts and sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sadako Ogata, scholar in residence, the Ford Foundation

Suha Ozkan, a scholar on the theory and history of architecture, design, vernacular form and emergency housing

Salim Tamari, director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies and professor of sociology at Birzeit University

About Jerusalem 2050
Jerusalem 2050 is jointly sponsored by MIT's Center for International Studies and the department of Urban Studies and Planning. The project is made possible through the generous financial support of Mr. Jeffrey Silverman, an alumnus of MIT; and the following individuals and institutions: Mr. Rick Tavan; the Boston Foundation; the Graham Foundation; the Office of the MIT Provost; Dean's Office, MIT School of Architecture and Planning; Dean's Office, MIT School of the Humanities and Social Sciences; MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning; MIT Center for International Studies.

For more information, visit

Just Jerusalem Media Kit (PDF)

The Center for International Studies (CIS) supports interna­tional research and education at MIT. It is the home of MIT’s Security Studies Program; the MIT International Science & Technology Initiative, its pioneering global education program; the Program on Emerging Technologies; and seminars and research on migration, South Asia politics, the Middle East, cybersecurity, nuclear weapons, and East Asia. The Center has traditionally been aligned with the social sciences while also working with MIT’s premier science and engineering scholars. CIS produces research that creatively addresses global issues while helping to educate the next generation of global citizens.