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What are Judaic and Israel Studies?

Faculty Group Picture

The Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies at the University of Oklahoma is the largest home for its fields in the region. With six core faculty members and eighteen associated faculty members, it offers more than sixty courses as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees. The center holds at least a dozen academic events every year, and awards thousands of dollars of scholarships to OU students studying on the Norman Campus and through OU Education Abroad.

Judaic Studies explores the history and culture of the Jewish people over a period of four millennia in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora (Dispersion) through the tools of the humanities and the social sciences. The field began as an academic discipline in Europe during the nineteenth century and developed within universities and research centers the world over during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Israel Studies is a much more recent field dedicated to interpreting the culture, politics and society of the modern State of Israel.

Use the navigation or buttons below to explore academics at the Schusterman Center for Judaic & Israel Studies.

Programs & Courses Awards & Scholarships Study in Israel

Five Common Misconceptions About Judaic & Israel Studies

Judaic/Israel Studies is only for Jews. Our biggest stumbling-block! Not only are most of our students not Jewish, many of our faculty are not either. Our field is an academic one: if the subject interests you, that’s good enough. (Jewish life at OU happens to be warm & friendly and there’s an active Hillel for all who wish to get involved).

Judaic/Israel Studies requires Hebrew. We encourage students to take Hebrew, but the overwhelming majority of our students do not. No language requirements, unless you want to Major/Minor

Judaic/Israel Studies is too old. Yes, Jewry is an ancient civilization. But the computer chips that you use in your cellphone were developed in today’s Israel and quite a few of the movies you like (especially the comedies) were made by American Jewish writers or directors.

Judaic/Israel Studies is too narrow. Schusterman Center scholarships are open to a broad array of OU students. Go on an archaeological dig, learn fashion design, study music composition, explore security studies, take university classes in mysticism. We’ve funded all these interests and more. 

Judaic/ Israel Studies classes sound hard. Like any good Humanities or Social Science unit, we are rigorous. After all, you want a degree that prepares you for the working world by cultivating your reading, speaking and writing skills. But our teachers are committed and caring, our classes are small, usually capped at 40, and you will get to know us – and we’ll get to know you too.