The YaLa Academy is the world’s 1st classroom spanning the entire Middle East & North Africa. Help us unite the region through knowledge by making a donation today on http://yalaacademy.org/conference/ (click on the DONATE tab). Funds will be collected by Intercast (technology partner of the YaLa Academy) and will be disbursed to YaLa Palestine to support the running costs of the Academy, including student relations, curriculum development, course instruction, facilitation of learning activities, platform management, and development of special initiatives for students from across the Middle East & North Africa. Unfortunately donations are not tax-deductible at this time. Contact us on email@example.com to find out more or about other ways to donate, including via YaLa’s other co-founding organization, the Peres Center for Peace.
The YaLa Academy is not a traditional university or institute of higher education, rather it focuses on the added-value of using online technology to empower a diverse group of young Middle Easterners to promote peace and positive change in the region. In this light, it aims to supplement traditional higher education, rather than replace it, and its programs take place fully online, thus allowing young people from any village, town, city and country anywhere in the Middle East – Israelis and Arabs alike – to study together in the same place.
The YaLa Academy is the main program of the YaLa Young Leaders movement of nearly 1 million youth from across the Middle East, a movement that was co-founded by the Peres Center for Peace and YaLa Palestine in May 2011. Additionally, the YaLa Academy works in cooperation with YaLa’s sister movement, YaLa Africa, to involve students from countries across Africa in our training programs.
The YaLa Academy’s 1,700 current and past students (and counting!) come from all around the Middle East, especially Israel and Palestine, as well as Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, among others. YaLa Academy students are between the ages of 17 and 36 (average age is 25) and are approximately evenly split between men and women. About two thirds of YaLa Academy students are already activists in peace initiatives or social causes, while the other half is interested in these fields.
Additionally, the YaLa Academy works in cooperation with YaLa’s sister movement, YaLa Africa, both to involve African students in our training programs, as well as to bring the experience and know-how of African experts and peacemakers to the young generation of the Middle East.
The flagship program of the YaLa Academy, the Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism is a unique online program taught by journalists and new media experts. The program focuses on:
• The ethics of citizen journalism & how to use citizen journalism for peace;
• Storytelling and how to write compelling blog articles;
• How to create photo-essays and short videos (vlogs);
• How to use New & Social Media to spread citizen journalism content and voices for peace.
The YaLa Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela focuses on the topics of:
• Peace negotiations and peacemaking;
• Human Rights and Transitional Justice;
• Reconciliation and Peacebuilding;
• Good Governance.
The YaLa Academy’s Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism is a unique online program taught by journalists and new media experts. The program, which builds off of a pilot program developed in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Peace in 2014, brings together 100s of young people from the Middle East & Africa to learn about:
• The ethics and approaches of citizen journalism;
• Writing for new media, blogging and storytelling;
• Photo- and video-journalism, with a focus on photo and video editing tools and photo- and video-journalism techniques;
• Social Media and Mobile Activism, with a focus on best practices for mobile activism and how to leverage social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, as well as YaLa Press and other blog platforms.
Cross-cutting among all topic areas are the themes of understanding, coexistence and peace in order to leverage new media citizen journalism to build bridges rather than sow divisions.
Through online lectures, discussions, assignments and activities, YaLa Citizen Journalists learn how to leverage new media tools to spread their voices on the issues that matter to them most.
The YaLa Academy’s Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela is the world’s first online peace studies program taught exclusively by peace practitioners. Students learn online directly from the men and women who pioneered, implemented and sustained the processes of peace negotiation, transitional justice, peacebuilding, forgiveness, reconciliation and good governance in South Africa, Rwanda, Ireland, the Balkans and the Middle East. The program includes regular live online chats on discussion questions with fellow students and YaLa Academy staff, periodic assignments, special online Q&A sessions with lecturers and a final project. Supplementary resources such as articles, simulations, case studies, documentaries and other materials will be available to the students in each of the four subject areas. Students who complete the video lectures, participate in the live chats and submit a final project will receive a certificate signed by the Institute’s lecturers.
A joint initiative of the YaLa Young Leaders movement and its sister movement, YaLa Africa, the YaLa Peace Institute wants to take peace education out of the university and into the streets of the Middle East and Africa, tapping into internet-inspired activism of the Arab Spring and beyond. With the creation of the Institute, we are leveraging the know-how and experience of peace practitioners so that you can forge a brighter and more peaceful future in your own lives, communities, and countries. For more information and to enroll: http://yalaacademy.org/enroll/.
The regional leadership focus area of the YaLa Academy is fulfilled by the MENA Leaders for Change program, supported by the U.S. State Department and implemented by YaLa’s co-founding organizations: The Peres Center for Peace and YaLa Palestine. The program combined online training with face-to-face workshops in order to create a cadre of skilled, connected, emerging leaders from all across the MENA region. The intensive, fast-paced program included an online course on Introduction to Negotiation and Conflict Management by the US Institute for Peace, as well as the Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations course by Vanderbilt University. Excelling students were selected to participate in a final workshop to discuss cooperation and develop projects to promote positive change throughout the region.
The program took place between 2013 and 2015, during which time it reached over 300 Israeli, Palestinian and MENA youth.
Lecturers in the Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism include leading journalists and media experts affiliated with outlets such as the New York Time, Associated Press (AP), the Washington Post and Facebook, among others, as well as young bloggers and new media practitioners, click here for the list.
These experts provide video lectures of approximately 10 minutes, which are posted on a private area of the YaLa Academy website and combined together into a unique 4-month curriculum that includes biweekly online discussions, periodic Q&A sessions, biweekly assignments, peer-to-peer feedback activities and ongoing online dialogues in a private working group on Facebook. The working groups are run by YaLa staff and coordinators: Israeli, Palestinian and international new media peace activists who mentor the students throughout the program, sharing their insight, experience and know-how in 1-1 relationships that are key to the high retention rate and success of the program.
The list of YaLa Peace Institute lecturers can be found here. They were selected based on their practical peacemaking and peacebuilding experience, ranging from peace negotiators, to human rights educators, to leaders in transitional justice and good governance from Ireland, Rwanda, South Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. The curriculum of the Peace Institute is based around video lectures from these practitioners, biweekly online chat sessions and a final project.
YaLa would like to thank all of our lecturers, who have volunteered their time and expertise inform and inspire the young generation of the Middle East and Africa!
The YaLa Academy is not a traditional university or institute of higher education, rather it focuses on the YaLa added-value of preparing a diverse group of young Middle Easterners for an open, peaceful, modern information society. In this light, it aims to supplement the higher education studies of its students, rather than replace them. The YaLa Academy thus does not offer degrees, but rather certificates from its various programs and trainers.
Students of the YaLa Citizen Journalism program who complete the video lectures, participate in the live chats and submit assignments will receive a certificate from the Aileen Getty Foundation and YaLa Academy School of Citizen Journalism.
Students of the YaLa Peace Institute who complete the video lectures, participate in the live chats and submit a final project will receive a YaLa Academy certificate signed by Institute lecturers.
Students who completed the YaLa MENA Leaders for Change program in 2013 or 2014 received course certificates, a certificate from the US Government, and US Department of State International Exchange Alumni status.
YaLa Academy has two semesters per year – one between March and June and another one between September and December. Check the Programs page for more details and application procedures.
YaLa Academy programs take place primarily in English. YaLa Citizen Journalism video lectures are available only in English, however summaries in Arabic are provided. Citizen Journalism working groups and assignments are conducted in English, however Coordinators are available to provide students with assistance in Arabic, Hebrew and French, making it a great way for non-native English speakers to improve their skills in the language. For the time being, the YaLa Peace Institute program takes place only in English.
If you are between the ages of 17 and 36 and you are from/living in the Middle East or North Africa, you can apply for the YaLa Citizen Journalism online training program focused on communication, journalism and new media skills. Find out more and apply here.
Enrollment is also open for the YaLa Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela focused on online lessons and discussions about peace negotiations, human rights, reconciliation and good governance. Sign up on http://yalaacademy.org/enroll/ or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions/assistance.
The YaLa Citizen Journalism program is coordinated through closed groups on Facebook and the courses take place on a private section of this website where students login to access the video lectures, live chat discussions and activities. To apply, click here.
The YaLa Peace Institute takes place on dedicated Facebook groups. To join, please click here: http://yalaacademy.org/enroll/
During the First Online Conference of YaLa Young Leaders in January 2012, YaLa members from throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) cited their need for better higher education and regional cooperation opportunities. With this in mind, YaLa developed its flagship project – the YaLa Academy – the world’s first classroom that spans the entire Middle East and North Africa region, the only of its kind to bring together Arabs and Israelis. Leveraging the power of innovative online technologies, the YaLa Academy seeks to provide its students with knowledge, experiences and skills that can help them to take on leading roles in the economic, political and social sectors of their communities, countries and the wider region.
Based on the outcomes and experiences of the YaLa Academy’s 2013 pilot program (formerly known as YLO@) involving 300 MENA students who studied, discussed and networked together online January-December 2013, YaLa identified the following priorities for its programming: 1) peace studies, 2) citizen journalism, 3) regional leadership. The YaLa Academy currently has two programs running: the YaLa Peace Institute in Honor of Nelson Mandela and the YaLa Citizen Journalism program (see above for details). Focusing on the third priority, the MENA Leaders for Change program reached over 300 MENA youth during 4 semesters held between 2013 and 2015.
The YaLa Academy is guided by an International Advisory Board chaired by Prof. Larry Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard & former U.S. Treasury Secretary, click here for the full list.