Fall 2023 Courses

photo of a classroom with a blackboard

Philosophy of Education

Professor Hanan Alexander

An introduction to the philosophy of education through a review of the major traditions of educational thought with an emphasis on the analysis of key concepts and arguments.

Religion, Gender, and Law: The Case of Israel

Professor Masua Sagiv

The course will explore the intersection of gender, religion, and law in Israel, as manifested in social movement activism through law and society. The course will illustrate and reflect upon different strategies and spheres for promoting social change, by examining core issues involving gender, religion and law in Israel: religious marriage and divorce, gender equality in the religious establishment, spiritual leadership of women, free exercise of religion (at the Western Wall and Temple Mount), conversion, and segregation in education. Spheres of activism to be covered include parliament, state courts, alternative private initiatives and courts, and social media.

Gender and Family Economics from an Israeli Perspective

Professor Shirlee Lichtman Sadot

The course will assess topics related to gender and family within the economics discipline through theoretical models and empirical studies based on data from Israel. We will study economic models of marriage, divorce, and birth, with the objective of understanding changes that occurred to family structures in developed countries and in Israel’s diverse population over the past few decades. We will then progress to economic models and empirical findings from Israel on gender gaps in the labor market.

Memory in Legal Principle and Process

Professor Daniel Levy

Human memory plays a key role in legal thought, institutions, and procedures. In a wide range of circumstances – evaluating the reliability of testimony, appreciating challenges to judges and jurors in learning and retaining information presented during a trial, assessing intent and culpability for plagiarism, or considering the admissibility of a plaintiff’s repressed memories – assumptions about the nature of memory play a vital role. For each topic, the relevant basic cognitive psychology and neuroscience information will be introduced in non-specialist terms. We will then consider the implications of those insights for philosophical attitudes, legal processes, and societal institutions, including memory in restorative justice, and collective memory in public spaces and monuments.

Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Memory

Professor Daniel Levy

What mental processes and brain substrates give us the ability to learn skills, master fields of knowledge, become sensitive to regularities in our environments, and reconstruct our pasts? To answer those questions, this course will explore recent progress in the understanding of the nature and brain bases of human memory. We will track to transformation of experience into memory, consider how processes of familiarity and recollection contribute to retrieval, examine how personal salience, emotional valence, surprise, and schematic congruence determine what we will later remember, discover what processes can promote consolidation of newly formed memories, explore methods of erasing unwanted memories, and track the contributions of brain areas and networks to mnemonic processes.

Immigration (Aliyah) and Israel's Ethno-Cultural Dynamics

Professor Larissa Remennick

Israel is the ultimate immigrant society: 95% of its Jewish population is built of immigrants of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd generation, and 40% of today’s Israelis were born abroad. In fact, immigration of the Jews from over 70 countries of the world has been the major resource of nation building for the Jewish State since its foundation in May 1948. The goal of this course is to familiarize students with the main landmarks of Israel’s social history in conjunction with the mass immigration waves (Aliyah) and show how these subsequent waves of Olim (newcomers) have gradually shaped the social, ethnic and cultural tapestry of modern Israel. We will explore the main schisms and contested issues of religion and inter-cultural relations among Israeli Jews. Our perspective will be both historical and sociological, and the readings discussed in class will reflect the cross-fertilization of these disciplines and outlooks.

History of Modern Israel

Professor Eran Kaplan

The class explores the history of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel in all its complexity and contradictions. What is Zionism? What are its roots? Is it a liberation movement? A religious cause? A colonial ideology? A set of state policies? And what is the relationship between Zionism and the modern State of Israel? How do Zionism and Israel look different when considered from the standpoint of Jewish, Palestinian, European, or Middle Eastern history? Exploring Zionism and Israel from its roots in the nineteenth century to the present, this class offers in-depth knowledge and discussion on all of these topics and more.

Israel: Politics and Society

Professor Ron Hassner

Lectures dedicated to the craft of research and writing will be interspersed with lectures about theoretical and empirical issues relating to the history and contemporary politics of Israel.  We will discuss the formation of the state, its geography and history, its political system, and its demographics.  Several sessions will be dedicated to Israel’s social and political challenges, to economic opportunities and obstacles, to U.S.-Israel relations, and to the relationship between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.  The Arab-Israeli conflict is not a focus of this class (it is a focus of another class of mine, PS124B, “War in the Middle East”) but students are free to address topics of international and national security in their papers for this class if they wish.

Spring 2024 Courses

Comparative Constitutional Law: The Case of Israel

Professor Masua Sagiv

This course will provide an introduction to constitutional law using Israel as a case study. Topics include: Constitutionalism and judicial review, state neutrality and self-determination, minority rights, state and religion, Human Rights Law, the concept of “defensive democracy" and ban of non-democratic political parties, legal aspects of the fight on terror, freedom of expression, equality and anti-discrimination, social rights, and constitutional limitations on privatization.

War in the Middle East

Professor Ron Hassner

The Middle East seems plagued by endless strife: wars, civil wars, insurgencies, terrorism.  Is that perception true? If so, why is this region so conflict-prone?  What factors motivate, constrain, and shape these conflicts? How can policy makers influence war in the Middle East?  This undergraduate lecture class takes on these and other thorny questions. It is a sequel to PS124A (“War!”) and builds on insights from that class to explore war in a particular part of the world.

Religion and Spirituality in Education: Israel, America, and Beyond

Professor Hanan Alexander

An examination of religion and spirituality in educational systems with and without separation of religion and state, such as the United States and Israel, by comparing how such notions as public and private, secular and religious, initiation and indoctrination, and diversity and inclusion are conceived and practiced in each setting.

Pedagogy of Difference

Professor Hanan Alexander

An examination of the competing concepts of criticism in educational thought, including Paulo Freir's "critical consciousness," Harvey Siegel's "critical thinking," Elliot Eisner's "educational criticism," and Hanan Alexander's "pedagogy of difference." 

Applied Microeconomic Topics Covering Israel

Professor Shirlee Lichtman Sadot

Applied microeconomists often seek to establish a causal relationship between two variables in large datasets to reach better-informed policy decisions. To be more specific, what are the effects of a specific policy measure on various outcomes? In this course, we will cover some basic principles of applied microeconomics through academic studies and case study papers regarding Israel. Israel’s institutional settings, social characteristics, and political and security challenges offer abundant opportunities to evaluate economic phenomena and various policy measures along with exposing underlying economic mechanisms.

Jewish Law

Professor Kenneth Bamberger

This course explores topics in Jewish law drawing from texts including the Torah, Talmud and Maimonides. Students will contrast the American and Jewish systems of jurisprudence, discuss legal philosophy, take up topics like abortion, Good Samaritan laws and the environment, and more. Most of all, students will ponder fundamental questions about the nature of law.