Our mission is to advance freedom and equality by investing in better relations between the West and Middle East through education, travel, and community engagement. We focus our efforts on the moderate middle, those who share our core beliefs—the world’s interdependence, the power of dialogue, and the necessity of basing relations across nations on the principle of the Golden Rule.
Purpose and Vision:
The Euphrates Institute is committed to improving relations with the Middle East by engaging the moderate middle and marginalizing the extremists, in an era when our security, energy, and religions depend upon it.
Our vision is to ensure 20 percent of the population in the U.S. are Informed about Middle East issues; Inspired by trends of change and models of hope; and Transformed–personally equipped with the tools to be peacebuilders. Through IIT—Informing, Inspiring, Transforming–we aim to create a tipping point whereby a groundswell for long-term understanding between the U.S. and the region is fostered.
The 20 percent goal is aligned to Everett Rogers’s research at Stanford, indicating that social change occurs only when a critical mass of people in that society are behind it. For a social change to be “embedded,” 5 % of people must be behind it. The movement or idea becomes unstoppable when 20 % of the populace is behind it. Anecdotally we’ve seen this to be true in the collective American shift behind every milestone of progress, from voting rights for women to civil rights legislation, attitudes toward the treatment of mental illness, and more. When Americans change their minds, government follows.
Why we’re different:
Euphrates, a metaphorical, geographical and practical bridge between East and West, is one of the first organizations to apply this research to the pursuit of peace between the United States and the Middle East. While the problems and conflicts we face are indeed complex, they are not impossible to solve. There is no need for a battle between doers and dreamers, or so called pie-in-they-sky peaceniks and action-oriented problem solvers.
As Einstein said and as liberals, conservatives and moderates can agree, “problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which we created them.” As a grassroots organization Euphrates will be the catalyst to solving to our East-West problems at a different level from which they were created—beginning with individuals and communities and progressing to a society and nation that is ripe for change.
Euphrates seeks to reach this critical mass for the core beliefs below:
- Mutual dependence, not dominance, is the way to peace within any relationship. This idea is exhorted by every major religion and ethics system most Americans profess to follow and has spread to nearly every field but foreign policy.
- Because the Middle East is the birthplace of our religions, the source of our energy needs and home of the greatest threats to our security, only through mutual dependence strategies in our relationships there will we become more secure, meet our energy needs and establish religious roots and ties that reflect our beliefs and preserve our own survival.
- To adopt this more effective approach specifically to American foreign policy, we must shift from focusing solely on extremists to engaging the moderate middle ground, which represents the vast majority of people and cultures in the Middle East.
We are building a critical mass of leading-edge individuals who recognize the need for conducting our foreign relations on the same basis as our personal relations according to the Golden Rule and in accord with shared interests. We expect to achieve our vision by:
- Gearing all of our programs towards addressing the “big three” issues in the Middle East-West relationship: security, energy, and religion/rising religious fundamentalism. We do this through building bridges, sustainability abroads, and interfaith cooperation, respectively.
- Addressing our message to leading edge thinkers. We have learned that we don’t have to reach everyone— such as those who cling to the mindset of zero-sum policy goals, or who tend to view foreign nations and peoples through a lens of fear and hostility— right away.
- Identifying the next generation of innovators and leaders on peace and sustainability through our extensive networks, and through media, talks, and outreach.
- Equipping and supporting these leaders in developing action plans to spread the message that two civilizations can find cooperation in the face of a seeming clash.
- Cultivating these leaders through our travel study trips to the region, our Warriors for Peace® program, and our student Fellows program.
Through a range of programs, resources, and activities, Euphrates is helping Americans take on the “big three” challenges of security, energy, and religion, from a different approach.
Think Tank. Euphrates is currently located at Principia College, where it has an on-campus, action-oriented research center, and holds conferences and events on Middle East issues. Last year, EI launched its Euphrates Fellows program, open to undergraduates around the world.
Media. Euphrates uses the power of the media to bring attention to Middle East issues through print and audio-visual. In Baghdad in 2009, Euphrates filmed and produced a trailer about grassroots change in Iraq, and is currently producing short videos on the Middle East abroad program. EI also releases a weekly video blog on a topic of interest.
Travel Study. Euphrates partners with the Center for Ecological Living and Learning to offer student study trips abroad to the Middle East with a peace and sustainability focus. Euphrates will offer shorter, non-student educational trips to the region beginning in January, 2012.
Action. Euphrates’ signature Warriors for Peace® program, launched this June, is based on the premise that transformation of our strained relations with the Middle East requires more than just government effort; it will take citizen action and involvement. Our community of Warriors for Peace® – the next generation of leaders of peace and sustainability – spearheads our action platform.
What they’re saying about Euphrates …
Ambassador Henry S. Ensher, “Euphrates Institute’s efforts to promote American awareness and citizen engagement on Middle East issues are the perfect complement to our work at the policy level.”
Eyal Raviv, Founder, mepeace.org – network for peace, “Euphrates is inspiring new thinking and leadership for our post-9/11 world.”
Rebecca Tobias, Global Council Trustee, United Religions Initiative, “Love heals spiritually, physically, psychologically and politically. Politics is about relationships. Come to any relationship with a clear conscience an open heart and rolled up sleeves and the best that resides within us manifests itself. The Euphrates Institute exemplifies this vision by focusing on the positive and the possible.”
Traci Fenton, CEO, WorldBlu, “Euphrates is exactly what the world needs right now. Individual empowerment is the final piece to real peace!”
Egil “Bud” Krogh, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency, ”The Euphrates Institute provides accurate, unbiased information and deep insights into the seemingly intractable Middle East issues. This vitally important work responds to the need for greater understanding and new approaches to resolve these complex issues peacefully, purposefully, and permanently.”
Torkel Patterson, Special Assistant to President Bush, “I support Euphrates because of the energy and inspiration of its founder, Janessa Gans. Her life experience and sincere desire to see a positive future for the Middle East and West take action through Euphrates.”