Searching for the Study of Israel: A Report on the Teaching of Israel on U.S. College Campuses 2008-09

Jan. 03, 2010

Source: Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies – Brandeis University 


An update of a 2006 report, Searching for the Study of Israel examines the scope of academic courses being taught about Israel on more than 300 leading American college and university campuses and finds that the state of education about Israel has improved since the original study. A comparison of the 246 institutions included in both studies shows a 69% growth in courses that focus specifically on Israel over the three-year period.


Other key findings from Searching for the Study of Israel include:

  • Of the top 20 national universities in U.S. News and World Report rankings in 2008‐09, all but one offered courses focused on Israel, while 12—more than half—offered four courses or more. This compares favorably to 2006 when five offered no courses focused on Israel and only three offered four courses or more.
  • Of the 316 schools in the 2008‐09 directory, 90% offered at least one course that dealt in part with Israel, and almost half offered four or more courses.
  • A total of almost 1,400 courses with Israel content were offered by the 316 schools with 572 of those courses specifically focused on Israel.
  • The study also found that courses about Israel were offered by a variety of departments, with the majority coming from history and political science departments, not from Jewish or Middle East studies. Moreover, most courses went well beyond the Arab‐Israeli conflict, suggesting a normalization of Israel as a subject within established disciplines.

The report is presented as a directory of courses offered in each university by department.

Updated: Mar. 15, 2010