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Summer Program in International Community Practice

Presented by the International Community Action Network (ICAN)


 About Us | Program | Dates & Locations | Credits | Costs | Applying

About Us

ICAN has more than 18 years’ experience in the region, and has partnered with NGOs and academic institutions in Palestine, Jordan and Israel to implement its unique rights-based community practice (RBCP) model. We have trained more than 50 Middle Eastern graduate fellows in the model. These social justice leaders have returned to their home countries and established eleven locally-owned participatory RBCP centers in the region that work with people in disadvantaged communities to learn about their rights, to be engaged in accessing their entitlements, to gain the knowledge and skills they need to meet basic human needs, and to make a difference in improving their own lives, their communities and their societies at large. ICAN's 11 centres, now reach more than 120,000 people each year.

In the summer of 2012, the International Community Action Network – McGill  (ICAN), formerly known as the McGill Middle East Program successfully organized and ran a pilot summer program, placing six North American university students with community partners in Israel. Expanding on this success, ICAN launched an International Summer Program between May and July 2013, with a module in Israel, a module in Palestine, and a field trip to Jordan. The 10-week Summer Program gave 17 North American students a unique experience in rights-based organizing with community centers in marginalized neighborhoods in the Middle East.

Seventeen students from Canada and the U.S.A. were selected to participate in the 2013 Summer Program. While the program is offered through the prism of social work, students came from a wide variety of fields, encouraging an interdisciplinary experience among the students.


The 2013 Summer Program in International Community Practice offered an experiential international program that includes a seminar series, field visits and field placements to a select number of American and Canadian students interested in rights-based international practice. The seminar series focused on comparative social policy and rights-based community practice. Students also participated in an eight-week (3 days per week) community-based field placement in ICAN  community organizations and other affiliated organizations. Visits with policy makers and to leading edge practice sites rounded out the program. 

Field placements

Field placements consisted of two one-month rotations at 3 days per week at an ICAN center or at an affiliated rights-based organization in Israel and Palestine, with a field visit to Jordan, which took place toward the end of the program. These locally-owned participatory rights-based community centers support people in disadvantaged communities to learn about their rights, access their entitlements, gain the knowledge and skills they need to meet their basic human needs, and make a difference in improving their own lives, their communities and their societies at large.

Students with proficiency in Hebrew or Arabic were able to work directly with clients. Students who lacked this basic proficiency did field placements focused on research and capacity building. All field supervisors have at minimum an M.S.W., 10 years of direct practice experience, and 5 years of supervision at the M.S.W. level. *Together with the one-day per week field visits, the eight-week field experience can count towards 6 credits, or its equivalent, of the students’ degree program in Social Work. Credit arrangements must be made with academic advisors in advance of travel as this program does not provide credit. 

Field visits

Students explored the wide range of civil society initiatives in each host country that focus on rights, while exploring the sociopolitical context and local culture. These weekly, one-day visits relate to the policy and practice issues that are covered in the seminar series that week. 

Seminar Series

The Comparative Social Policy and Rights Based Community Practice seminar series is offered to both graduate and undergraduate students. It compares major trends in social policy in the Middle Eastern countries involved (in particular policies that have a direct impact on disadvantaged populations and which relate to the global discourse on inequality) with Canadian and U.S. trends. The seminar content complements the students’ field visits and placements by situating rights-based community practice in the context of community organization and social work practice and allows the students to link their field work to policy and academic discourse.  The seminars focus on the central practice issues and skills in establishing rights based community organizations, the development of participatory structures, the utilization of neighborhood-based voluntary power, and the provision of interdisciplinary services.

The seminar is offered in English by Professor Jim Torczyner (McGill University School of Social Work) and guest lecturers from Israel and Palestine.  Students may make arrangements to receive up to 3 tutorial credits for participation in this seminar series by prior arrangement with their academic advisors. 

Dates & Location


The 10-week Summer Program ran from May 12 through July 20, 2013.


The bulk of the 2013 Summer Program took place in Israel and Palestine, with a module in Jordan. The student cohort spent one month in each of Palestine and Israel. The students rotated to the second country after one month, so that each student had the opportunity to experience two distinct regions and different modes of implementation of rights-based community practice. RBCP centers in the Middle East are located in Amman, East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, Lod (Lydda), Beer Sheva (Bir As Siba), Negev (Naqab) Region, and Nablus.

While most activities of the Summer Program took place in areas without official travel warnings from the Government of Canada, vigilance and caution are recommended during all foreign travel. It is recommended that students check back frequently at http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/israel-the-west-bank-and-the-gaza-strip.

In accordance with McGill University travel guidelines, students are made fully aware of risks, precautions, and safety measures through detailed orientation materials and mandatory attendance at live sessions. Each student completed a Student Acceptance form wherein they confirmed their attendance at the sessions and confirmed their carriage of personal insurance coverage.

Lodging is provided in urban settings close to the practice centres, in 2013 this included Ramallah in Palestine, and Lod and Beer Sheva in Israel. This afforded students opportunities for independent exploration of local culture and society during their free time.


This Summer Program is operated as an independent internship program rather than an academic for-credit program.  As such, students make arrangements in advance, with their academic advisors, regarding credit. In the case of Social Work Students (both BSW and MSW) pre-approval has been arranged for those who wish to have this summer program count as an International Field Placement, with continued responsibilities on their return to campus. 


The basic costs for each student for this 10-week Summer Program, providing an in-depth international internship experience is $6,000. This includes:

  • in-country lodging;
  • in-country travel costs;
  • a basic subsistence allowance;
  • field visits;
  • seminar series;
  • field supervision

Students who are able to secure at least 6-credits through their academic advisors for participation in this program will be eligible to apply for McGill Mobility Awards and other funds available through the Arts Internship Office, among other sources.

Students will be responsible for their own visa arrangements, health insurance, and air travel to and from their home country.


2015 Application

The program is suspended for the 2015 year. The application process for the Summer 2016 program will be announced during the Fall 2015 semester.

MMEP 2013_application_form


Questions can be directed to: ican [at] mcgill [dot] ca; 514-398-6717


Download a poster with Summer Program information at this link: