Northwestern expands partnership with Tel Aviv University

Tyler Pager, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern has officially entered into a strategic partnership with Tel Aviv University in Israel, announcing the addition of three new programs, including two designated for undergraduate students.

The undergraduate program includes courses in public health, political science and economics. Seven students are participating in the new program this spring. Additionally, NU students will have the opportunity to take part in an exchange between the universities. NU already had partnerships with Tel Aviv University through the Kellogg School of Management and the School of Law.

Last week, administrators including University President Morton Schapiro and Provost Daniel Linzer traveled to Israel to meet with Tel Aviv University officials and announce the new programs. The delegation also met with alumni during a Celebrate Northwestern event. 

In the past, NU did not offer undergraduate programs in Israel because of the University’s travel policy, which prohibited students from studying in any country that had a State Department travel warning, said Devora Grynspan, assistant to the president for global initiatives and director of the Office of International Program Development. The policy was changed last year to make exceptions for students to study in individual cities that are deemed safe.

Grynspan said once the policy was changed, Israel was a natural choice for additional programs because of its advancements in science and technology as well as their public health system.

“We have to go to those countries that are strategic and where faculty and students can learn from some of the top people around the world,” she said.

The announcement of the new partnership comes on the heels of NU’s rejection in December of the American Studies Association’s call for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. However, Grynspan said the decision to expand NU’s partnership with Tel Aviv University was decided long before the boycott was announced.

“The boycott is something more recent,” she said. “This trip has been in the planning for more than a year now.”

Jonathan Kamel, president of Wildcats for Israel and a former Daily columnist, said he applauded the new partnership.

“We’re very thankful and appreciative of Northwestern’s efforts to develop ties with Israel both from a strategic standpoint and academic perspective,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “It’s really important we partner with one of the best universities in the Middle East.”

However, Moira Geary, co-president of Students for Justice in Palestine, said the decision is further evidence of University officials acting without consulting students and faculty beforehand. She cited a campus-wide email from Schapiro and Linzer rejecting the boycott as another example.

“The decisions that are supposed to represent the University as a whole are really made by a few in the administration with political goals and they don’t necessarily represent the wants and needs of all of the Northwestern community,” the Weinberg junior said.

A supporter of the ASA’s call for a boycott, Geary said Tel Aviv University, in particular, has a history of supporting the occupation.

“Tel Aviv University specifically is one of the universities that when people talk about individual boycotts just based on their individual records is one of the main offenders,” she said.

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