Action Research Center for Social Justice

The College and its Environment

The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College was founded for the purpose of making higher education accessible to Israel’s northern periphery, which has historically lagged behind the country’s center in social and economic indicators. Narrowing this gap is at the heart of the College’s, and the Center’s, academic and social agendas.

The College is located in a region of diverse communities and populations: development towns with veteran and immigrant populations; cooperative agricultural communities (Kibbutzim and Moshavim); Israel’s two largest Arab cities with Moslem, Christian, and Druze populations; and Bedouin and other Arab villages.

This unique environment enables the College to deal with inequalities and with the complex relations among society’s different groups, thereby promoting the well-being and development of the region’s residents and communities.

The Center for Action Research and Social Justice

The Center was founded in the College in 2004, and today it is Israel’s leading action research center. The Center’s core goal is to leverage its academic resources in the service of promoting social justice, inclusion, and inter-group cooperation in the region while at the same time continually re-examining the relations between society and academia.

Over the years, the Center has engaged in a variety of action research projects in collaboration with community-based and national organizations in the areas of education, community development, disabilities, immigration, and Jewish-Arab relations.

These projects attempt to develop solutions to challenging and complex issues as well as practical knowledge for promoting social justice, social change, inclusion, and inter-group cooperation [link to list of publications.

Today, the Center for Action Research and Social Justice convenes researchers, professionals, social activists and citizens interested in re-examining their practice to discover, in the course of action and inquiry, new pathways for realizing the potentials inherent in diversity.

The Center carries out its mission through implementation of the following strategies:

  • Creation of unique learning spaces in which change agents develop their abilities to promote
  • change at the personal and systemic levels.
  • Training in the methods and skills of Action Research.
  • Supporting the initiation and performance of Action Research in the community.
  • Developing “strategic action fields” for promoting systemic change.
  • Producing and disseminating practical and actionable knowledge

Action Research is not a method, but rather a family of diverse research methods that share five common values, or features of practice that people who do Action Research consider critically important. These values include:

  1. Participation and partnership
    Action research is first and foremost a relationship. It is research “with” and not “on”. This means that the “subjects” in normative research are “partners” in action research and that professional researchers share control over the research with the people with whom they are doing the research. This sharing is most important in defining the research question. Normative researchers generally define their research questions or topic and then find a field in which to conduct the research to find an answer. Action researchers always develop their questions together with the people with whom they are researching. To do this, they must develop a relationship with those people. Participation and partnership may affect every stage of the research – data collection, analysis, interpretation, writing, dissemination – though it is rarely fully maximized. It is an aspiration. It is important not just because of democratic values, but because it yields better knowledge.
  2. Action-oriented.
    Action research aims at producing knowledge that enables participants to do something that they could not do before. It is not simply about understanding or explaining. Action research takes problems and turns them into research questions. In this sense, the question “How to…” is a good way of framing an action research question. The explanations or understandings that we produce should guide our actions. By acting, and observing and evaluating the outcomes, we test the validity of our knowledge.
  3. Change-orientation.
    Action research expresses a commitment to changing the status quo for the better. What “better” actually means (growth, flourishing, freedom, etc.) is an important question that needs to be asked. In any case, Action Research is never simply about the way things are, but the way we would like them to be. Lewin is believed to have said that “the best way to understand a system is to change it”. Whether or not he actually said it, it makes good sense.Action research is based on cycles of iterative learning. There are many different versions of the action research cycle, but all include elements of action, learning through reflection on action, and putting that learning back into planning and action. To a certain extent all research and all action involve these cycles, but often out of awareness. In action research, these are made explicit. Learning can be from success or failure. Either way the action researcher tries to gain something from action and apply it to future action. Finally, this learning is incremental and iterative.
  4. Reflexivity.
    Action research is always about the researcher to some extent. It is never just about “them”. Action researchers always ask themselves how they might be affecting their partners and how their partners are affecting them. Action researchers are acting and changing and learning along with the people with whom they are doing their research. Action researchers learn and change from and with their research partners in the field.

The Center specializes in a “self-in-field” approach to Action Research, that integrates concepts and methods for Field Theory, Action Science, and Dialogue. This approach sees the social world as a complex network of “fields” that people construct through their interactions. These fields in turn decisively shape the ways in which people think, feel, and act, at both the individual and collective levels. The fundamental assumption of this approach is that since individuals take part in the construction and maintenance of fields, they also have the power to change those same fields by strategically changing their thoughts, feelings, and actions, and by leveraging this change over time.

The main tools for creating change are inquiry, discovering complexity, developing a self-in-field awareness, reframing the relationship between self and fields, experimenting with new modes of action, and ongoing learning. With the help of “Self-in-Field” Action Research practitioners can navigate field change over time, essentially redesigning the social fields in which they participate.


Abu Elhaija, I., Desivilya, H., Friedman, V., Palgi, M., Shamir, M., Shamir, O. & Sykes, I. (2007). Building partherships: Critical reflections on the Action Research Center (ARC), in A.B. Shani, N. Adler, S. A. Mohrman, W. A. Pasmore & B. Stymne, Handbook of Collaborative Management Research, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Arieli, D. & Friedman, V. (2009). Action Evaluation in the academia: the process of the establishment of the Nursing faculty in Emek Yezreel academic college”. In: R. Lustig, (Ed.) Evaluation on the Move. Ayelet: the Israeli Association for Programs Evaluation, 215-224. (in Hebrew).

אריאלי, ד., ברונשטיין אדלר, א. (2009), “מחקר קליטתם של ‘בני המנשה ‘ בישראל”, דוחות מחקר הערכה מעצבת שהוגשו לסוכנות היהודית.

פרידמן, ו., סמינוביץ, ח. ופלגי, מ. (2009). שותפות בין אקדמיה לקהילה: אירוע ,פרויקט גבהים לאן?״. נייר עבודה של המרכז למחקר פעולה ולצדק חברתי. עמק יזראל: המכללה האקדמית עמק יזרעל.

Arieli, D., Friedman, V. & Agbaria, K. (2009). The paradox of participation in action research. Action Research, 7(3), 263-290.

Arieli, D. Friedman, V. & Hirschfeld, M. (2009). “The Establishment of an Academic Nursing Faculty: Action Research in Israel”. International Nursing Review 56(3): 299-305.


פרידמן, ו., אנגלרט,פ., רות׳מן, ג׳, פרידמן, נ., בירנבאום, ש. (2010). הערכה בפעולה בישראל – תפיסות ושיטות, בתוך מ. לוין-רוזליס (עורכת), סוגיות בהערכה בישראל. באר שבע: אוניברסיטת בן גוריון בנגב, 137-160.

Arieli D. & Hirschfeld, M. (2010). Teaching nursing in a situation of conflict: encounters between Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli Nursing students. International Nursing Review 57(3), 312-320.

Friedman, V. & Desivilya, H. (2010). Integrating social entrepreneurship and conflict engagement for regional development in divided societies. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 22:6, 495-514.

Friedman, V., Moran, A., Palgi, M., & Seminovich, J. (2010). Partnership between academic and the community: the case of “Whither Gevan?”, In S. Sharabani, O. Tschishinsky, N. Shake-Mondere, O. Balderman-Shamir, M. Shamir, & I. Granov, (eds.), Researchers in the Emek: A Compilation of Articles Written by Researchers at the Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Emek Yezreel, Israel: Emek Yezreel Press,, 167-174.

Seminovich, J., Palgi, M., Moran, A. & Friedman, V. (2010). Involving residents in grassroots processes. In S. Sharabani, O. Tschishinsky, N. Shake-Mondere, O. Balderman-Shamir, M. Shamir, & I. Granov (eds.), Researchers in the Emek: A Compilation of Articles Written by Researchers at the Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Emek Yezreel, Israel: Emek Yezreel Press, 156-166.


אריאלי, ד., משיח אייזנברג, מ., והירשפלד מ. (2011). “יחסים חברתיים, תמיכה הדדית ושביעות רצון בקרב סטודנטים יהודים וערבים לסיעוד.” גוף ידע 7, ע’ 3-8.

אריאלי, ג. ופרידמן, ו. (2011) הערכה בפעולה כדרך להתמודד עם אתגרים חברתיים בין תרבותיים במסגרת אקדמית. מכללת עמק יזרעאל: נייר עבודה של המרכז למחקר פעולה ולצדק חברתי.

Friedman, V.J. (2011). Revisiting Social Space: Relational Thinking about Organizational Change, in A.B. (Rami) Shani, R.W. Woodman & W.A. Pasmore (eds.) Research in Organizational Change and Development, 19, 233-25.

Friedman, V. & Arieli, D. (2011). Building Partnerships across Cultures as Negotiating Reality, in Desivilya, H.S. and Palgi, M. (eds.), The Paradox in Partnership: The Role of Conflict in Partnership Building, Bentham eBooks, 79-92.


Arieli, D., Mashiach, M., Friedman, V. & Hirschfeld (2012).”Cultural Safety and Nursing Education in Divided Societies”. Nursing Education Perspectives, 33(6), 364-368.

Arielli, D., Friedman, V. & Hirschfeld, M. “Challenges on the Path to Cultural Safety in Nursing Education”. (2012) International Nursing Review, 59, 187-193.

Arielli, D., Friedman, V. & Knyazev, G. (2012). Fostering cooperation while engaging conflict: an intercommunal case study. In J. Rothman, (ed.), From Identity-Based Conflict to Identity-Based Cooperation, New York: Springer, 135-156.

Arieli D. & Friedman, J. (2012). Action Evaluation as a Way of Engaging Social and Intercultural Challenges in Academia. In: Lustig, R. (ed.), Using Evaluation to its Full Potential. Ayelet: the Israeli Association for Programs Evaluation, 55-69. (In Hebrew).


פרידמן, ו., וסייקס, י. (2013). חשיבת מרחבית ותיאוריית השדה ככלים לשינוי. נייר עבודה של מהרכז למחקר פעולה. עמק יזרעאל: המכללה האקדמית עמק יזרעאל.

Arieli, D. (2013). Emotional work and diversity in clinical placements of Nursing students, JNS: Journal of Nursing Scholarship 45(2), 194-201.

Arieli, D. & Friedman, V. (2013). Negotiating reality: Conflict transformation in natural spaces of encounter. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 49(3), 308-332.

Arieli, D, & Hirschfeld, M. (2013). Supporting minority nursing students: ‘Opportunity for Success’ for Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. International Nursing Review 60(2), 213-220.

Friedman, V. (2014). Negotiating reality: Intercultural communication as constructing social space. In Poutiainen, S.(ed.) Theoretical turbulence in intercultural communication studies. Newcastle, U.K.: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 1-19.


לפקידות-לפלר, נ. ופרידמן, ו. (2014). הערכה בפעולה לפיתוח מודל הפעלה מבוזרת של תכנית מרכז יום מבוזר לאנשים עם מוגבלויות שונות. נייר העבודה. המרכז למחקר פעולה ולצדק חברתי. עמק ישרעאל: מכללת עמק יזרעאל.

Friedman, V, and Sykes, I. (2014). Can social space provide a deep structure for the theory and practice of organizational learning? In A. Berthoin Antal et al. (eds.), Learning Organizations: Extending the Field, Knowledge and Space, Volume 6, Dordrecht, Germany: Springer, 143-156.


לפידות-לפלר, נ., פרידמן, ו., ואריאלי, ד. (2015). יצירת מחרב להשמעת קולותיהם של אנשים עם מוגבלויות. עיונים בשפה ובחברה, 7(1-2), 218- 236.

אריאלי,ד. ו פרידמן, ו. (2015). בין קונפליקט לדיאלוג: על תהליכי התערבות במפגש בין ערבים ויהודים באקדמיה. סוגיות חברתיות בישראל, 19, 9-36.

Lapidot-Lefler, N. Friedman, V., Arieli, D., Haj, N., Sykes, I. & Kais, N. (2015). Social space and field as constructs for evaluating social inclusion. New Directions for Evaluation, 33-43.


Brenner, N. & Friedman, V. (2016). Redefining success in Arab–Jewish dialogue groups: learning to live in both worlds, International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution 2015 (3)2, 136-157.

Friedman, V. , Sykes, I., Lapidot-Lefler, N. & Haj, N. (2016). Social space as a generative image for dialogic organization development. In D. Noumair & Shani, A. B. (Rami), (Eds.), Research in Organizational Change and Development, Volume 24. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publications.

Abu Elhaija, I., Friedman, V., and Friedman-Sokuler, N. (2016). Social Space as a Tool for Building Partnership. Nazareth: Masar Institute for Education.


Friedman, V. Antal, A. (2017). Spaces for social creativity. In P. Meusburger (Series Ed.), P. Meusburger, B. Werlen, & L. Suarsana (Vol. Eds.), Knowledge and Space: Vol. 9. Knowledge and action, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

Friedman, V., Sykes, I. & Strauch, M. (2017). Expanding the realm of the possible: Field theory and a relational framing of social entrepreneurship. In P. Dey and Chris Steyaert (Eds.), Critical Perspectives on Social Entrepreneurship.

Name of article Authors
Expanding the realm of the possible:
Field theory and a relational framing of social entrepreneurship
Victor J. Friedman, Israel Sykes and Markus Strauch
Negotiating Reality: Conflict Transformation in Natural Spaces of Encounter Daniella Arieli and Victor J. Friedman
Social Space and Field as Constructs for Evaluating Social Inclusion Noam Lapidot-Lefler, Victor J. Friedman, Daniella Arieli, Noha Haj, Israel Sykes, Nasreen Kais

Project Partners and Financing Center Researchers Project Content
“The Learning Space”
College staff and community activists interested in improving their practice in Prof. Victor Friedman
Israel Sykes
Monthly meetings of college and community practitioners for learning, developing, and implementing “self-in-field” action research academic and community contexts
“The Academic Puzzle”
Dr. Javier Seminovich, Dean of Students, Emek Yezreel College.
Nizar Bitar, Director of Unit for Advancing Arab Students.
Funding: Planning and Budgeting Committee, Council of Higher Education.
Prof. Victor Friedman
Israel Sykes
Action Research to leverage the development in Emek Yezreel College of opportunities for Arab and Jewish students to share experiences and develop relationships, to create a sustainable organizational culture of natural interactions, cooperation, and friendship of students from all groups.
“The Incubator for Innovation in Education – Strengthening Civil Society
Ibrahim Abu Alhija, Amutat Masar, European Community.
Funding: European Community
Prof. Helena de Sevilla Prof. Victor Friedman Orianna Aboud-Armeli Meis Mansour Ferial Massoud Accompanying learning and evaluation of a partnership between civil society organizations with the goal of promoting educational entrepreneurship in Palestinian society in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority. Building the capacity of students and educators to promote change processes that contribute to social justice, gender justice, equality and human rights.
“Pathways to the Community”
“Israel Unlimited” (JDC-Israel, Welfare Ministry, Health Ministry, Ruderman Foundation), Baka al Garbia Municipality, Amutat Gil Paz, Baka Al Garbia Dr. Noam Lapidot-Lefler
Noah Haj
Nasrein Kais
Prof. Victor Friedman
Israel Sykes
Accompaniment of process, research and evaluation of a project for developing an innovative model for providing services for people with severe disabilities in the periphery. The project was carried out as a process of action research with the participation of all stakeholders, with an emphasis on people with disabilities and their families, including developing and testing the model.
“Post-doc Group”
Young lecturers in the College and other academic institutions Dr. Noam Lapidot-Lefler
Prof. Victor Friedman
Israel Sykes
Development of a learning space to promote the academic, professional and personal development of young Ph.D.’s in Israel.
The Ethics of Integrating Arab-Jewish Dialogue in a Required Course
Prof. Miriam Hirschfeld, head of School of Nursing, Emek Yezreel College Dr. Daniella Arieli
Prof. Victor Friedman
Examining perceptions of students regarding inclusion of the issue of Jewish-Arab dialogue in the context of the Nursing School curriculum.
Learning Processes of the Nursing Faculty in relation to Coping with the Challenges of Arab-Jewish interface in the School
Shahira Halabi and Michael Sternberg, Shatil. Faculty of Emek Yezreel Nursing School
Funding: Shatil
Dr. Daniella Arieli
Prof. Victor Friedman
Prof. Miriam Hirschfeld
Developing a space for faculty to explore, reflect on and learn about the multi-cultural reality (with an emphasis on the Arab-Jewish interface), its components and challenges, and build an action plan for creating processes of change and impact.
Evaluation of the Clinical Experience of Nursing Students The Clinical Unit of the Emek Yezreel Nursing School Dr. Daniella Arieli Study of the impact of the multi-cultural space on the clinical experience of Nursing students.
Research and Intervention at the Interface between Students from different groups in the School of Nursing
Prof. Miriam Hirschfeld, head of the School of Nursing, Emek Yezreel College.
Funding: Research Fund, Emek Yezreel College
Dr. Daniella Arieli
Prof. Victor Friedman
Data collection related to the experiences of students from their meeting in the shared academic space, and developing short-term and long-term intervention models.
Action Evaluation of the Process of Establishing the Nursing School in Emek Yezreel College.
Prof. Miriam Hirschfeld, head of the School of Nursing, Emek Yezreel College. Dr. Daniella Arieli
Prof. Victor Friedman
Research accompaniment of the processes of establishing the School, collaborative building of goals and vision with the faculty.
The Studio for Social Creativity
Aviram Meir, School of Visual Communication, Prof. Arian Antal, Berlin Center for Social Sciences, students and faculty of Emek Yezreel College, social activists Prof. Victor Friedman
Dr. Helena Desevilya
Development of a space for creating innovative and fitting responses to social needs and problems in the area of the college, by combing social entrepreneurship, art and conflict resolution
Formative Evaluation of the “Chance to Succeed” Project School of Nursing, Emek Yezreel College Dr. Daniella Arielli Evaluation research accompanying the development of a project to support and promote the success of Ethiopian students in the Nursing School.
Treatment of Environmental Hazards
Arab Center for Alternative Planning, Adam Teva V’din, Abraham Fund, Tamara, Ilabun and Acre
Funding: Abraham Fund
Dr. Helena Desevilya Formative Evaluation of a project for promoting treatment of environmental hazards in Arab towns.
Course in Action Evaluation
Prof. Jay Rothman, Fulbright Scholar

Funding: Fulbright

College faculty and activists in various community organizations Training and capacity building in the “Action Evaluation” methodology for building partnerships, setting goals, and building action plans for social projects.
“Identity, Conflict and Vision”
Students from the Behavioral Science and Sociology departments, Emek Yezreel College.
Prof. Jay Rothman, Fulbright Scholar, ARIA Associates, USA.
Funding: Fulbright
Prof. Jay Rothman
Prof. Victor Friedman
Collaborative development of a shared Jewish-Arab future vision, with an emphasis on the College.
Evaluation study of the absorption of “Bnei Menashe” from India
Jewish Agency Department of Immigration and Absorption.
Funding: Jewish Agency
Ela Bronstein-Adler
Dr. Daniella Arieli
Combined evaluation research and ethnographic research in two absorption centers, in institutions for vocational training, and in the community. Study included monitoring the absorption process of Bnei Menashe immigrants, for adapting the absorption process to the community’s needs.
Coping with Conflicts in a School Community Amal School, Ein Harod Dr. Helena Desevilya
Naama Gal
Michal Rotem
Development of a model for constructive coping with conflicts, that suits the school’s vision and needs, and that is based on negotiation and mediation.
Evaluation of Integration of Autistic Children in a School
Bracha Ramot, Rimon School, Kibbutz Ramat David.
Dr. Orit Chetzroni, Haifa University
Dr. David Yagil
Suzy Gottes, BA honors student.
Prof. Victor Friedman
Study of social integration of autistic children in the Rimon School, Kibbutz Mesilot, and the Beit Shean Valley. The goal was to perform an evaluation study using Action Research methodologies.
“A Library in Gilboa”
Uri Barzak, Gilboa Regional Council Michal Shamir
Gilboa Regional Council
Provided research support for establishing a library in the Gilboa Regional Council that would serve the community’s learning, education and research needs.
“Tamrat to Where?”
Amir Moran, Tamrat community settlement Prof. Michal Palgi
Dr. Javier Seminovich
Prof. Victor Friedman
Community involvement and systematic definition of the settlement’s long-range directions for development.
“Sha’ar el-bab”
Mr. Kamal Agbariah and members of Amutat “Navras” for building civil society in Um el Fahm Dr. Daniella Arieli
Prof. Victor Friedman
Seeking paths for creating dialogue and collaborations between academia and the community.