At the Helen Diller Institute, we are committed to elevating the discourse on Israel and contemporary Jewish issues not merely as an intellectual exercise, but to cultivate more educated leaders for tomorrow. Everyday, we provide a rich academic forum for our nation’s future leaders to explore the breadth and complexity of these critical topics, creating dynamic spaces where students and the wider community can thoughtfully exchange ideas. Our programs introduce students to world-class thinkers while building a community of faculty and peers to support them throughout their college experience. At a time when polarization is more severe than ever, we are committed to bringing integrity, excellence, and grit to fostering civil discourse, inspiring more resilient and educated leaders.
The Helen Diller Institute was founded at Berkeley Law in 2011 by a group of 15 faculty members across several disciplines on Berkeley’s campus. These faculty observed extreme polarization, a lack of rigorous academic engagement, and a paucity of tools for students to engage in civil discourse on the subject of Israel. They responded to that need by creating the Helen Diller Institute with the goal of providing a rich academic forum for students and faculty to explore the breadth and complexity of Israel and contemporary Jewish issues. Our affiliated faculty have grown to include 22 faculty members from fields as diverse as Political Science, Sociology, Economics, History, Jewish Studies, Music, Law, Journalism, and Business.
The Helen Diller Institute houses two core programs that encompass the work that we do on Berkeley's campus and beyond — our Program on Israel Studies, and our Program on Jewish Law, Thought and Identity. The Institute engages students by sponsoring courses taught both by Berkeley faculty and by visiting faculty from Israel, coordinating experiential learning programs in Israel, and housing a fellowship for Berkeley undergraduate students. In addition to our work with students, the Helen Diller Institute is committed to bringing professors from Israel’s top universities to teach at Berkeley during their sabbatical years. The Helen Diller Institute also hosts dozens of lectures and programs every academic year, many of which are open to the public. We provide the UC Berkeley campus community with colloquia, symposia, and workshops which explore Israel studies and contemporary Jewish issues.