The Jewish Studies Program, an interdisciplinary program in the School of Arts and Sciences, was founded in 1973 to offer courses and academic programs devoted to the exploration of Jewish history, culture, religion, thought, and literary and artistic expression. Faculty is drawn from the Departments of Religious Studies, Anthropology, English, French and Italian, German, History, and Political Science.
The program sponsors 15-20 courses per year, enrolling 450-550 students, and offers a certificate program for undergraduates. Since 1981, over 100 students have completed the certificate. Several students each year complete majors in religious studies or history with a strong focus on Jewish history. Students may also construct a self-designed undergraduate major in Jewish studies. We offer a full range of courses in Hebrew language and students can use modern Hebrew courses to fulfill the undergraduate language requirement. Many of our courses also fulfill general education requirements.
Although the program does not sponsor its own graduate program, Jewish studies faculty are active in mentoring graduate students through their home departments and in recent years students have completed dissertations on the Jewish experience in various PhD programs, including those of religious studies, history, art history, and Hispanic languages and literatures. As the academic center on campus for Jewish studies, the program also serves as a resource for faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students in a variety of departments whose work touches on aspects of Jewish culture or history.
We are the largest academic program offering courses in Jewish studies in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Eastern Ohio. Through our Giant Eagle Foundation Endowment for Community Outreach, we serve as an academic resource in Jewish studies for the broader academic community of the region, for the local Jewish community, and for a wider public interested in the history of the Jewish experience and contemporary Jewish culture. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, sponsored by the College of General Studies, regularly lists our courses in their catalog. Faculty members associated with the program have been active in numerous community educational projects as resource persons and as instructors. The Jewish Studies Program fulfills an important community role by regularly sponsoring a number of public programs on campus by distinguished scholars and creative artists invited from American and international universities. Topics range across the full spectrum of Jewish life and culture. The program has also sponsored major symposia on campus focused on important historical and contemporary topics.