Intellectual Journeys

Intellectual Journeys, at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, is a unique program of intellectual enrichment in the humanities and social sciences. It aims to foster in a select group of young adults skills of observation and the ability to analyze deep philosophical issues, while constantly relating to current problems in Israel and elsewhere and to the relations between these deep ideas and the current social and political situation.

The program is intended for a small and select group of young adults with intellectual curiosity and a high learning ability, in the summer before they begin their academic studies. The fellows receive shared accommodations during the summer course and a stipend for everyday expenses. The program is provided free of cost and its fellows come from all parts of Israel’s population: Jews and Arabs, religious and nonreligious individuals, from the center and the periphery, those planning to study the humanities and those planning to study other fields.

Leading scholars teach in the program, including Prof. Ruth Gavison, Prof. Shai Lavi, Prof. Nissim Mizrachi, Dr. Yochi Fischer, Dr. Raef Zreik, the author Prof. A. B. Yehoshua, Prof. Ruth HaCohen (Pinczower), Dr. Ofri Ilany, Dr. Ronit Ir-Shai, and Dr. Miri Rozmarin.

The program consists of a summer semester and monthly one-day meetings during the academic year. The studies include seminars, tutorials, excursions, and writing and creative workshops. They all allow ample room for discussion and mutual enrichment by the participants. Not only is the social composition of the program’s fellows diverse, the topics on which the program focuses are also aimed at developing broad and innovative perspectives on current complex issues. Therefore, the content of Intellectual Journeys is challenging and requires unconventional, complex, and critical thinking.

The social aspect is a key part of the program. The fellows spend time together for six consecutive and intensive weeks, in the course of which they live in shared housing. The shared living contributes greatly to bonding and to creating a once-in-a-lifetime social experience. It also intensifies the intellectual experience, by allowing a direct encounter with a variety of opinions. In fact, the lively discussions that begin in the classroom are continued with even greater intensity in the shared housing.

Personal Journey: In the course of the program and throughout the following year each fellow develops a personal research project of social and cultural activity, with close and continuing support from the program’s team and from supervisors selected in keeping with the content of the project.

Additional details can be found on the program’s website.

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