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About the Program

In 1981, the Committee on Jewish Culture and Society of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences envisioned an interdisciplinary program in Jewish Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

The Program not only has grown; it has flourished. We are actively recruiting minors and majors and the program is growing rapidly. Under the aegis of the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, students who demonstrate academic excellence are awarded prizes each semester. The Program also sponsors lectures and workshops and extends financial support to faculty and graduate students with scholarly interests in the field.

The Program in Jewish Culture and Society hosts a variety of academics, politicians, and artists to participate in courses, showcase their work, and talk to students, faculty, and community members. Undergraduate students can major or minor in the study of Jewish culture and society; graduate students can plan a concentration in this area for an advanced degree in one of the traditional disciplines.

The Program in Jewish Culture and Society is designed to promote and support the academic study of Jewish culture and society in the spirit of free and open inquiry appropriate to a public, secular university. The expertise of the Program's faculty makes it an invaluable source of Jewish knowledge and activity for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Champaign-Urbana area, and the rest of the state of Illinois.

Mission Statement

The Program in Jewish Culture and Society promotes academic research and teaching of Jewish histories, cultures, and societies of the world.  Diverse Jewish cultures, legal traditions, theology, languages, literatures, histories and politics are the focus of increasing interest and importance among University of Illinois students and faculty.  The campus has had a longstanding commitment to interdisciplinary pedagogy and scholarship related to Jewish studies.  A wide array of courses in various disciplines, rich cultural programming, faculty experts committed to education and exploration related to Jewish cultures, and extensive library resources enable students to explore the diversity of Jewish worlds past and present.  We are actively growing our minors and majors program as well as building on existing strengths including Israel Studies, Holocaust studies, and Russian/ East European scholarship. We have a newly revived Yiddish program that features courses, film series, and visiting scholars and playwrights. In addition, we are expanding our programming in Chicago and our outreach to Hillel, the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation, and Sinai Temple groups in order to make connections between students, scholars and Jewish community members.  The Program is a vibrant hub of intellectual and cultural life for the campus, the local community, and the Midwest region as a whole.