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. 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 teaching staff 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.
The Program in Jewish Culture and Society is designed to promote and support the academic study, the unbiased and objective teaching, and the dissemination of information about Jewish culture and society. Its work is primarily centered at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. For this reason, it most directly affects central Illinois. However, the uniqueness of the Program's resources makes it an invaluable source of Jewish knowledge and activity for the Chicago area as well as throughout the academic community. The quality and interests of the Program's faculty permit it to play a leading role throughout the country and the world in Jewish academics, as well as community programming and affairs.
The Program argues that Jewish culture and society provides data that should be studied, taught, and analyzed from many different perspectives. For this reason, the Program has provided resources to a variety of colleges, departments, and programs throughout the Illinois campus. In this way, the study and teaching of Jewish culture and society is open to as many points of view and as many different students as possible. The Program has not created a free-standing "Jewish Studies program" because its goal is to integrate, not isolate, the study of Jewish culture and society within the university. The Program has benefited greatly in its efforts from the support of the university's administration, the deans of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and a large number of academic units across campus.
While the Program's primary focus is the study and teaching of Jewish culture and society, it believes that this cannot be done in isolation from other activities on campus. For this reason, the Program has provided resources for and is working to expand the library's Judaica collection. In addition, the Program has provided resources to the University of Illinois Press to help it publish works that enhance and deepen our understanding of Jewish culture and society. The Program is working with the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Krannert Art Museum to provide venues for Jewish artists to display and perform their works.
The Program brings to campus a variety of academics, politicians, and artists to participate in courses, showcase their work, and talk to students, faculty, and community members. While the Program often serves as the initiator and primary sponsor of these events, it is often asked to co-sponsor events with other units on campus. These activities not only enhance the Program's visibility, but they also bring to campus some of the most important participants in the study of Jewish culture and society.