Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt offers an interdisciplinary academic program that facilitates the critical study of Jewish history, religion, language, philosophy, politics, culture, society, music, art, and literature. The program uses the resources of the entire University to explore Jewish culture and its evolution and expression from biblical times to the present. Jewish Studies is a particularly worthwhile and effective area of study within a liberal arts education, but also offers many points of entry to other academic disciplines. It is integral to understanding major moments in the formation of Christianity and Islam as well as distinct episodes in the history and literatures of the modern Middle East, Europe, and America.
Students of all backgrounds will find in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt a wide array of material and methodologies, presented by scholars of exceptional teaching ability. . To sharpen their grasp of the field, students may utilize the fine resources of the Zimmerman Judaica collection as well as the opportunity to study abroad in Prague and Israel, pursue internships locally or nationally, do research in archives overseas, or participate in archaeological excavation at Megiddo, Israel. Students will also benefit from the program’s lively schedule of visiting scholars, lectures, and conferences that aim to explore multiple perspectives current in the study of Judaism.
Students shape their 30-hour major or 18-hour minor in Jewish Studies around their own interests. Majors and minors take a foundational course, Introduction to Jewish Studies, and majors develop proficiency in Hebrew or another language associated with the Jewish people during the course of their long history. Students select courses from four subfields of study: Biblical Studies, Antiquity and Medieval Thought, Modern and Contemporary Experience, and Culture, Philosophy, and Literature.
By combining their Jewish Studies major with coursework at Peabody College, students can prepare for careers in Jewish education, community development, public policy, counseling, and organizational leadership.
The interdisciplinary nature of Jewish Studies provides an excellent academic foundation for a variety of rewarding career paths including professional schools, such as law, medicine, and business, and public administration, government service, education, communal service, Foreign Service, ministry, and rabbinate, as well as graduate studies in religion, international relations, history, literature, foreign languages, classics, social work, social science, and education. It sharpens the analytic, linguistic, textual, and methodological tools necessary for advanced research and teaching.
The faculty members in the Program in Jewish Studies represent a wide range of disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, philosophy, literature, and art. Recent faculty publications include analyses of Jesus’ parables, of Maimonides’ texts, of Jewish life in the Ottomon Empire, even of the history of Jews and dogs, among many others.
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