Round Tables Multicultural Forum: Shades of Israeli Identity
Ono Academic College’s Round Tables Program is an academic curriculum that explores Israeli identity by exposing students to the cultural, religious and ethnic complexity of Israel and the challenges of modern, democratic Israel as a pluralistic Jewish state. These meetings of students from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze, Ethiopian, secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox backgrounds introduces all involved to the true nature of Israel’s diversity and teaches them conflict resolution skills that emphasize working from the ground up, which they practice by delving into specific issues.
ROUND TABLE CURRICULUM
Every year, a cohort of 40 students from diverse backgrounds explore the essential questions of Israeli identity in a Jewish, democratic, pluralistic and multi-cultural state and the complexities that affect how it is shaped. The 50-academic-hour course is comprised of eight meetings, including three full-day seminars in December, January, and February, four additional 3-4 hour meetings between March and June, and a concluding seminar of 10-12 hours in June.
The focus of all seminars and meetings is an in-depth study of the cultures, values, attitudes and religious beliefs that make up Israeli society, as well as the operational skills of negotiation, dialogue and conflict resolution. The program has become a foundation for a more general course on Israeli Identity that is now part of the required curriculum for all Ono Academic College students.
Additionally, the program aims to produce change agents capable of creating greater cohesion and pluralism in Israeli society, who will influence decision makers and serve as role models for others across the country. In this vein, Ono encourages and helps facilitate activities in each of the participant’s communities that reflect the lessons and skills learned in the course and supports individual initiatives of program graduates.
Students are awarded a scholarship as an incentive for participation.
ISRAELI IDENTITY COURSE
The wildly successful pilot of Ono Academic College’s Round Tables Program proved that there is great value to the face-to-face interactions of students from diverse background. As such, we adapted the course for the classroom and made it a requirement for all Ono students. With a curriculum that explores the broad ranging issues that shape Israeli identity, the course helps students develop a more pluralistic view of life in Israel, while teaching them the skills necessary for living together with others in a multi-cultural society.
The course is taught by Ono lecturers knowledgeable in law and social sciences, as well as several guest speakers.
Ono Academic College holds an annual conference to spotlight the ideas discussed and issues raised during the course throughout the year. The conference, which is open to the public, features guest speakers, panel discussions, the evaluation of research stemming from the coursework, Q&A sessions and opportunities for audience participation.