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About the Humanities Division

About the Humanities Division
The Humanities Division The Humanities Division in 2018–2019 brings together 61 members from various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including Archeology, Linguistics, Jewish History, Hebrew Language, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Economics, Classics, Religious Studies, Political Science, Jewish Thought, Bible Studies, Law, Literature, Statistics, Psychology and Philosophy.
The Division’s activities include supporting research projects; organizing international symposia, seminars and lectures; and investigating topics related to the humanities and social sciences. The Division also promotes various activities initiated by its members and conducts programs designed for scholars in the early stages of their academic careers.
The Academy supports wide-ranging projects of national import, including two initiatives in the humanities in recent years: the Onomasticon of Iudaea • Palaestina and Arabia in the Greek and Latin Sources and the Ezra Fleischer Geniza Research Institute for Hebrew Poetry.
The Academy is participating in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica project for publishing critical editions of Hebrew works composed in Europe in the Middle Ages, and it supports the Middle Persian Dictionary Project.
The Humanities Division conducts studies on the state of scholarship and teaching in the various fields of the humanities and social sciences in Israel. In 2006, the committee issued a report entitled The Future of the Humanities in Israel’s Research Universities. The Division’s efforts to strengthen the status of the humanities during the following decade led to an increase in humanities budgets from public sources and from philanthropic organizations such as the Humanities Fund (a joint initiative of Yad Hanadiv and the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education). The Academy’s representative on the Fund’s Academic Committee is Prof. Yohanan Friedmann.
In 2007, a committee assigned to examine the state of Historical Research in Israel´s Universities published a report edited by Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar, a member of the Academy.
A committee was established in 2010 to study the state of archeology in Israel. The committee, chaired by the late Academy member Prof. Yoram Tsafrir, published its findings in its Report on the State of Archaeology in Israel in 2015.
In 2015, a committee headed by Academy member Professor Guy G. Stroumsa began examining Religious Studies programs at Israel’s universities. It published its findings in a report entitled The State of Religious Studies in Research Universities in Israel in 2017.
In 2009, as the Israel Academy celebrated its jubilee year, the Academy’s Council decided to establish a series of annual lectures commemorating the Academy’s first president, Prof. Martin Buber. The lectures in the series touch upon a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and are intended to appeal to a broad audience of scholars and laypersons.
In 2015, the Humanities Division launched its Master Class program for scholars in the humanities and social sciences. The program brings young researchers together with senior academics at two-day workshops, exposing them to cutting-edge scholarly issues. The first workshop took place in Acre (Akko) in June 2015, led by Professor Dennis Pringle of Cardiff University, a leading archaeologist of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. In a second workshop, initiated by Academy member David Shulman, the Academy hosted a Master Class given by the singer T. M. Krishna in January 2017. Krishna is the leading contemporary musician working in the classical Carnatic musical tradition of southern India.
The Humanities Division arranges guest lectures and seminars honoring senior Academy members and commemorating deceased members.
Each year about a dozen outstanding scholars at the start of their careers are selected to join the Forum of Young Scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The forum is a think tank for broad academic discussions on specific topics, with each member contributing his or her unique perspective. Each group is coordinated and mentored by one of the Academy’s members, who also chooses the topic of discussion. A forum's activity lasts from one to two years, as determined jointly by the mentor and the group.
Since 2009, the Division has worked with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany to organize a series of interdisciplinary conferences in the humanities (German Israeli Frontiers of the Humanities – GISFOH), each involving fifty young scholars from Israel and Germany. The aim of these symposia is to bring together outstanding young researchers from different fields and challenge them to think and explore beyond disciplinary boundaries, enabling cross-fertilization and creating channels for the exchange of academic knowledge.