Columbia University Starts Courses for U.S. Students Wishing to Become Experis on Israel
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Columbia University Starts Courses for U.S. Students Wishing to Become Experis on Israel

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The establishment of a Center of Israeli Studies, in which American and foreign students will be trained as regional specialists in various professional fields, was announced today by Columbia University. The Center will be financed by the Jewish Agency.

The students will concentrate ont he present-day economic, political and social culture of Israel. They will be trained to do work of authority and influence in business, finance, journalism and government service, and to serve as specialists in research and teaching in the social sciences, religion and literature.

Probably the only one of its kind on such a scale, the new unit will be in operation with the beginning of the Columbia winter session in September, according to Professor Schuyler C. Wallace, director of the School of International Affairs. Professor Wallace said the center will be headed by Dr. Salo W. Baron, professor of Jewish History, Literature and Institutions at Columbia. He will be assisted by a staff of experts in Jewish culture, assembled from the United States and Israel.

“The purpose of the center is to perform a national service by preparing well-qualified American and foreign students to understand Israel and its people, both in its Near Eastern setting and its historical connection with the Jewish people and with their religion and culture in other countries,” Professor Wallace emphasized.

“The staff of the Center of Israeli Studeis believes that such prospective specialists should acquire special knowledge and training.” These include: (a) a broad and well-integrated knowledge of Israel, Judaism and the Near East; (b) command of a well-developed speciality in a selected academic discipline, as applied to those areas; and (c) a broad training in the more general aspects of this selected discipline.


Aside from its prime objective of training students for scholarly and professional careers with a major emphasis on Israel, Judaism, and the Near East, the center will attempt to advance the general knowledge and understanding of these areas, chiefly through research work and publications of its staff and students, declared Professor Wallace. The admission of students from other parts of Columbia to the center’s courses will further this secondary aim, he said.

Three classes of students may register for courses in the new unit. They are: (1) students desiring to specialize particularly in the area and cultural courses offered by the center, while working for a degree in a department or school of the University; (2) students working for a degree in one or another academic fields who may wish to take individual courses in the center in connection with their primary interest; and (3) special students, who, while not working for a degree, may wish to take courses in the center for reasons of personal interest in the area or the subject matter of the courses offered.

Typical of the courses which will be available is the following cross-section of subjects: Political and Social Institutions of Israel, Ancient Jewish History and Literature, Jews Under Islam, Jews in Eastern Europe, The Prophets and Sages of Israel, and Economics and Society in the Middle East. Professor Wallace said that it is hoped that the center will eventually become an integral part of Columbia’s projected Near and Middle East Institute.

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