Jul 12, 2016  By Jewish National Fund  Category: Education,

U.S. professors return from faculty fellowship in Israel inspired, and with new connections

Professor Motter, taking in the Arava Desert. 

It’s not every day an American college professor gets to talk one-on-one with doctors working on a cure for Alzheimer's, discuss video game designs with a Nobel Prize winner in mathematics, or spend time in the room where Jesus is said to have celebrated the Last Supper. 

Those, however, are only a few of the novel takeaways recently experienced by two dozen university academics on Jewish National Fund and Media Watch International's Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel, which links scholars from diverse disciplines with their Israeli counterparts at major institutions to initiate exchanges and collaborations.     

Twenty-four U.S. professors spent 10 rigorous days traveling through Israel, meeting Israeli professors in their disciplines with the same or similar research interests, all with the goal of developing collaborations on research projects, co-authoring articles, and establishing exchange programs with faculty and students. Speakers enlightened and educated the participants about Israel and its history, the Holocaust, Israeli and Arab women's rights, R&D, and so much more. Participants were exposed to culture, historical sites, the people and the way of life in Israel. 
Professor David Ruth
It’s not surprising to learn that since their return, the professors have described the Faculty Fellowship as life-changing. "I have long believed that Israel is a special place," said David Ruth, professor of mathematics at the U.S. Naval Academy. "The people, places, and experiences on our trip confirmed that belief with overflow." 

Professor Jocelyn Motter, who teaches cinema and television at Drexel University, said, "To visit so much of Israel, meet the number of people, and hear the vast amount of tales and perspective was ambitious to say the least. The friends I met, the connections I made, and the stories I walked away with have forever changed my life.  As a filmmaker and professor, there is no greater gift."

Sharon Tzour, founder and executive director of Media Watch International, adds, "The beauty of Faculty Fellowship is that the relationships made during the two-week program are transformational, leading to life-long partnerships between professors in the U.S. and Israel who are truly trying to help make the world a better place, inside and outside the classroom.
Examples of past academic working relationships include:

Faculty Fellowship 2015 colleagues Professor Andres Cibils, animal and range sciences at New Mexico State University, and Dr. Marcelo Sternberg of Tel Aviv University are researching the effects of drought and livestock grazing on the Mediterranean ecosystems of Israel and hot deserts of the southwestern U.S.

Professor Solveig Spjeldnes, social and public health at Ohio University, and Dr. Esther Hertzog of Beit Bert College in Tel Aviv (Faculty Fellowship 2015) have partnered to study women in poverty, focusing on single mothers, including those in prison with poor health and abuse backgrounds, to develop strategies to assist them upon release

Faculty Fellowship 2011 alumni Dr. Michael Goodman, epidemiology, Emory University, and Dr. Keinan-Boker of Haifa University have worked together on a joint breast cancer research project. Keinan-Boker presented their first collaborative project, "Trends in the Incidence of Female Breast Cancer in Jewish and Arab Women in Israel," at the annual Living Beyond Breast Cancer conference in Atlanta, and Keinan-Boker has since lectured at Emory University.  

The Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel is a competitive academic fellowship that invites full-time university and college faculty members to apply for a two-week summer fellowship in Israel. Participants meet with professionals and experts involved in government, industry, education, media, and other sectors to understand the many facets of Israel's evolving national and international policies. Those who take part gain a deeper awareness of the many challenges faced by the country and the creativity, spirit, and ingenuity that Israelis bring to tackling these issues globally. 

To learn more about the universities and professors that have taken part in the 2016 Faculty Fellowship Summer Institute in Israel and prior years, or to register for the 2017 program, visit http://www.ff2israel.org/ or contact Rene Reinhard at 212.879.9305 ext. 235. 

Participants in the 2015 Faculty Fellowship in Israel.