Back to Top

The Home of Academic Studies on Israel

Israel Scholar Awards

The Israel Scholar Awards were prestigious awards meant to encourage students to pursue academic careers in Israel-related fields by supporting their graduate studies. The awards are currently suspended pending new funding.

Past Recipients:

About the ISDF

The Israel Scholar Development Fund (ISDF) was created to help address the serious shortage of faculty teaching courses related to Israel at American universities.

One of the goals of the ISDF is to expand the number of course offerings related to Israel. A second goal is to normalize the study of Israel so that it is taught the way other area studies are instructed, rather than focus primarily on the Arab-Israeli conflict. A third goal is to encourage the creation of permanent positions in Israel Studies, Centers of Israel Studies and regular visiting Israeli scholars.

Each of these goals has been accomplished over the past decade. The number of courses related to Israel has expanded exponentially. By bringing faculty in fields as diverse as musicology, art history and psychology, the ISDF has succeeded in exposing students to a broad array of perspectives. Finally, the visiting professors have made such a large impact on a number of campuses that they have served as catalysts for chairs and/or centers at a number of institutions, including UCLA, the University of Maryland, Berkeley, San Francisco State, Ohio State and American University.

The ISDF grants a total of $60,000 to qualified professors for salary, benefits and travel. The host university is expected to cover any remaining costs, with a minimum investment of $15,000. Ideally, expenses should be shared by the university and the community (through a local donor or institution) to demonstrate support for the project. The ISDF can assist in securing this local support. The grants from the fund are for one year. There is a possibility, but no guarantee, of renewal. The general policy is to support a scholar and institution for no more than three years.

Over the past decade, the ISDF has supported more than 100 different professors at more than 50 universities.

In 2014-15, the Fund will support 18 Visiting Professors at universities where we believe they can have the most impact. In addition, the ISDF will be supporting a Meyerhoff Visiting Professor at San Diego State.

The ideal candidates from our perspective will have impeccable scholarly credentials. They should be excellent classroom teachers who are fluent in English. They should also be willing to be active on the campus and the community. We would like to see scholars who will, for instance, give public lectures and engage in policy debates in the media. Faculty will be expected to teach two courses per semester, one of which should be related to modern Israel. We will also expect the scholar to attend an orientation conference in the summer.

Each year, we invite new Israeli scholars to apply for the program. Each applicant is screened to assess academic qualifications and program fit by an Advisory Board consisting of ten leading American and Israeli scholars in the field as well as our past VIP's. Qualified professors are then interviewed in Israel and a final list of professors we recommend in compiled. Typically, this list has 40 or more candidates from a range of fields. Schools are allowed to choose scholars from outside the list, but we ask that they consult with us first so we can be sure the proposed scholar fits the program requirements. We understand the academic requirements of the university and do not attach strings to the grant.

The current program is for full-year positions but we occasionally have funding for faculty to be in residence for a semester.