Protect Modern Hebrew and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Manchester

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Hebrew at the University of Manchester

In 2014-15, the University of Manchester found itself at the centre of an international protest when a number of degree programmes in the subject area of Middle Eastern Studies, including a BA(Hons) in Hebrew and Israel Studies, and a number of course units, including undergraduate Modern Hebrew, were withdrawn and/or phased out. Support for the Manchester academics who argued in favour of continuing the provision of undergraduate Hebrew language teaching was received from a wide variety of individuals, learned societies, and subject associations, with the British Association for Jewish Studies online petition receiving over 1000 signatures from 45 countries within 10 days. Shortly after, management at the University of Manchester agreed that the credit-bearing undergraduate teaching of Modern Hebrew at all levels would continue (albeit in a reduced capacity) on condition that it be partly paid for by external funding. Funding was obtained and the Centre for Jewish Studies is now piloting an innovative approach to language learning featuring a mixed teaching environment for classroom-based students alongside distance-learning students (via a swivl robot, video-conferencing, and smartphone technologies). For details, see www.manchesterjewishstudies.org/modern-hebrew/. While disappointed that the withdrawn degrees have not been restored, the Centre for Jewish Studies is extremely grateful for the assistance that the British Association for Jewish Studies and others provided, especially considering the inauspicious economic circumstances and the practical and ideological challenges that face university language teaching in the UK more generally.

British Association for Jewish Studies
5 years ago