The Massachusetts Institute of Technology hopes to mobilize the world's brainpower to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by inviting individuals or teams from any country to participate in its "Just Jerusalem"
The contest aims to find a way to make Jerusalem "just, peaceful and sustainable" by 2050 so that Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in a city both consider their capital.
The school will accept entries between March 31 and Dec. 31, the Boston Globe reported. MIT will announce the winners next March.
Diane Davis, co-director of the project and associate dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, said inquiries about entering the competition have come from the Palestinian city of Ramallah and from Israel, Ecuador, Greece and the United States.
MIT can bring a "veneer of neutrality" to the issue, Davis said. "We have a reputation for using serious, scholarly methods to solve problems," she said. "We're a science and technology institution, and there's a sense that science stands above politics."
Dennis Ross, a US envoy to the peace process during the Clinton administration, said in previous negotiations the two sides were close to an agreement on Jerusalem.
Ross said the chief problem has long been what to do about governing and sovereignty in the Temple Mount complex. "These are problems that should be solved, and I believe can be solved," he said.
"The main value of a contest like this is to show that people care enough to try to find solutions," he added.
The competition's nine-member jury includes a Palestinian scholar and a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem. Winners of four categories on the rebuilding of Jerusalem, from renovating buildings to revamping its economy, and a fifth floating category will each receive a $50,000 MIT fellowship.
Those interested in entering can go to: http://web.mit.edu/justjerusalem/