The Center for Academic Engagement (CAE) seeks to
- Create a cadre of academics who will act as advisers and mentors to students, junior faculty and pro-Israel student groups
- Monitor and help navigate grievance procedures for students and faculty who feel they have been harassed or disadvantaged because of their pro-Israel stance;
- Work behind the scenes on key university committees, on Academic Senates, and with senior administrators, presidents, trustees and alumni in support of Israel.
Research and Response
[READ THE WHITE PAPER]
In summer 2012 CAE conducted a qualitative research survey of 40 academics (professors, administrators, staff, and Jewish professionals) currently working with Jewish and pro-Israel student groups on 34 colleges and universities in the United States. The objective of this research was to get a sense, or map of their environment and make recommendations that would have an impact on campus by contributing to the ability of academics to become engaged on campus.
The survey respondents characterized their campuses as belonging to one of three general categories regarding Israel:
- Positive atmosphere: 25%
- Apathetic atmosphere: 60%
- Negative or hostile atmosphere: 15%
the majority of campuses with an apathetic to positive orientation can be regarded as fertile soil in which concentrated efforts could yield valuable returns that would impact the atmosphere on campus. Even the negative 15% should be seen as an area where challenges can be met with appropriate preparation.
Activities the Center will sponsor
- CAE will create a governing board and an advisory board of distinguished academics. The governing board will oversee the activities of the Center, will advise the Center executive director and staff in creating a three-year strategic plan, and will be responsible for advising and supporting ongoing strategic fundraising for the long term fiscal health of the Center. The advisory board of distinguished academics will engage in peer review of projects and develop future conferences and Center-based research, and will be on call for speaking at Center events and workshops and other Center activities.
- Initially, CAE will be active on 30-40 campuses across the United States, mentoring and advising students, student groups, and junior faculty. This initiative will involve 90-120 faculty, staff and administrators, with the goal of reaching 100 campuses after the first three years.
In addition to supporting and enabling students’ pro-Israel activities, CAE will advise and assist faculty and campuses interested in developing Israel Studies courses and programs, including developing a database of best practices and model curricula, and providing seed funding for course development. To help these academics CAE will make them Fellows of the Center, and bring them together once a year for workshops and training in how to work with students, understanding Title VI, understanding student organization finances, how to work with students with psychological problems, understanding the Dean of Students office, and working on student grievances.
CAE will provide these academics with workshops and seminars on the history of Israel, the conflict, geopolitical issues and related matters. CAE will provide staff support and a network of support for ongoing communication with their colleagues on other campuses. Periodically, CAE will take academics for refresher programs in Israel.
- Organize and support academic visits to Israel, to acquaint US academics with Israel, and connect American and Israeli academics on a peer-to-peer level to develop joint projects. Starting with a pilot tour during winter break 2012, the program will grow to scale to allow 500-1,000 annual visitors within three years.
- Create regional incubators to provide start-up funding for US and Israeli faculty to engage in joint scientific research, as well as activities in the arts, music, theater, film and graphic arts, that may result in new products, inventions, procedures, programs and cultural and artistic endeavors.
Resources (Links coming soon)
An Israel on Campus Coalition White Paper: Mapping the Territory Facing Pro Israel Academics on Colleges and Universities in the United States
Center Fellows Program
Academic Research Travel Program to Israel
Professor Emeritus Sam Edelman for more information.