Narratives of cooperative ecological science: The case of Israel and Jordan

Sofia Kosel, Yael Teff-Seker, Daniel E. Orenstein, Elli Groner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As ecosystems do not follow human-made borders, cross-border environmental cooperation can be highly effective, perhaps even necessary, for both scientific insight and conservation efforts. Several environmental cooperation initiatives between Israel and Jordan emerged since the peace treaty of 1994. These initiatives had the explicit double goal of peacebuilding and enhancing regional environmental protection. However, as political relations between Israel and Jordan have been unstable and often tense during this period, cooperation toward these goals has often proved challenging. The current study investigates one such attempt at regional scientific environmental cooperation, specifically, cooperation between Jordanian and Israeli long-term socioecological research centers. Eleven in-depth interviews with Israeli and Jordanian scientists, who constitute all the participating scientists in this initiative, were conducted in order to identify the benefits and challenges of their cross-border collaboration. A thematic analysis of the interview contents was then performed to compare the results with models and theories pertaining to intergroup relations from the field of social psychology, theories that are particularly relevant to this case study because they see collaboration toward a common goal as especially productive for decreasing intergroup prejudice and hostility. Specifically, Allport's (1954) "contact theory", and its derivatives in this context, were discussed, which asserts that personal contact between members of different groups leads to less intergroup prejudice and decreases intergroup hostility. Other social psychologists have developed Allport's work and argue that decategorization (seeing people as individuals rather than groups) and recategorization (perceiving people from both groups as belonging to the same metagroup) are 2 additional important processes that are necessary to reduce intergroup tensions and that find support in the current investigation. The study concludes by proposing a model that describes group-identity factors, as well as other factors, contributing to the success and failure of cross-border scientific environmental initiatives in areas of regional conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-269
Number of pages13
JournalPeace and Conflict
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Contact theory
  • Environmental cooperation
  • Group identity
  • Middle East
  • Peacebuilding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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