Abraham Path Initiative

(a Harvard Negotiation Project initiative)
Directors: William Ury Joshua Weiss
Academic Advisor and Sponsor: Jim Sebenius
Senior Affiliate: Jamil Mahuad

The Abraham Path Initiative (API), which was founded under the auspices of the Global Negotiation Initiative (GNI), seeks to inspire and support the opening of a permanent cultural route of pilgrimage and tourism retracing the footsteps of Abraham in the Middle East. The mission of the API is to help seed walking trails across the region in order to reintroduce this storied landscape as one of irrepressibly hospitable people. By shining light on traditions of hospitality, API evokes the beloved regional origin story that shows up in everyday life: residents welcome strangers in honor of Abraham (Ibrahim, in Arabic), a spiritual ancestor of over half of humanity.

GNI oversees academic research on the Path’s development, which has grown to span over 2000 km across the Middle East. A case study and an update about the development and evolution of the API has been written by members of GNI and other academicians. These case studies have been published through the Harvard Business School Case Study project. With the onset of Covid-19, the API has turned its sights on the virtual realm, holding virtual tours and numerous educational webinars about all aspects of the path. Some examples, that have been delivered by API fellows and other academics, include presentations on the development of the path in Northern Iraq, discussions about oral history capturing, and a photo exhibit of the people, landscapes, and archeology in different places along the route.

When travel resumes, a number of thematic trips will be offered. In particular, Weiss is planning on leading a five day leadership and negotiation training along the path in the region.