Report: Koren & Fishman, Israel Studies at Brandeis, 2013-2014

Koren, Annette, and Shira Fishman. Israel Studies Directory: 2013-14 Report Update, Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University, September 2015.




Executive Summary

As discourse on campus about Israel intensified in 2013-14 and 2014-15, opportunities for students to engage in serious learning about Israel and its political situation became increasingly important (Koren, Saxe, & Fleisch, forthcoming). Current studies of Jewish students, however, find that they know little about Israel or its place in the Middle East (Fishman, Koren, Saxe, & Aaronson, forthcoming; Saxe, Wright, & Hecht, 2015 forthcoming). Previous research (Koren, Boxer, & Samuel, 2012; Koren & Einhorn, 2010a; Koren, Samuel, Boxer, & Aitan, 2013) documented the importance of reasoned discourse and academically rigorous education on campus. College serves as an important site for the development of civic literacy and awareness of the many challenges facing the globe in the 21st century. Education about Israel and the Middle East must occur in a way that furthers both of these efforts and promotes meaningful discussion inside and outside of the classroom. To help inform educational opportunities about Israel, the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies (CMJS) continues to track the development of Israel studies at 316 colleges and universities in the United States. This report updates previous reports from 2008-09, 2011-12, and 2012-13. The directory explores changes from previous years in Israel-focused courses—those dealing specifically with Israel for the bulk of class time—and Israel-related courses, which offer more limited discussion of Israel. It compares 2008-09 and 2013-14, describes the number and distribution of Israel-focused courses by subject area, and discusses the number of Hebrew and Arabic language course offerings and the trends. Finally, the directory and report reiterate the importance of external funding and internal support for programs to build the field.

This report documents the following:

  • A 13% increase in Israel-focused courses and a 22% increase in Israel-related courses between the years 2008-09 and 2013-14.
  • Almost 80% of colleges and universities offering at least one Israel-focused course in at least one of the four years that directories have been compiled.
  • An estimated total enrollment of 15,000 students in Israel-focused courses in 2013-14— approximately the same as 2012-13.
  • The benefit of tracking Hebrew language programs as well as Israel-focused course listings in the future.
  • The importance of continued institutional and external support to ensure continued growth of Israel studies.



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