Multiple Laboratories of Multicultural Education
With more than 14,500 students from across Israel’s religious, cultural, and ethnic spectrum, and campuses in major cities and development towns around the country, Ono Academic College is the fastest growing institute of higher education in Israel, and a model of inclusive undergraduate and graduate programming and education-based social reform.
Guided by the belief that accessible higher education is the key to national security, economic growth and societal advancement, Ono’s multiple laboratories of multicultural education and socially oriented curriculum provide the potential for all people to achieve personal fulfillment and professional success.
MULTICULTURALISM AS A GUIDING PRINCIPLE
At Ono Academic College, multiculturalism is a guiding principle reflected in real numbers. Ono continually strives towards a more integrative, multicultural and thriving Israeli society by providing a welcoming and adaptive learning environment for Israel’s largest minority student population, including men and women from Ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian and Arab backgrounds and individuals with developmental and learning disabilities, including revolutionary programming for individuals with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning Autism.
To cultivate this vision, the governing board of Ono Academic College created a Dean for Social Development. Professor Yuval Elbashan, one of Israel’s leading social justice attorneys, first served in this role, and Former Minister of Education Rabbi Shai Piron assumed this position in August 2016.
A MULTICULTURAL CAMPUS FOR A MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY
Ono Academic College aims to model the kind of multicultural society we believe Israel can become: one in which toleration is necessary but not sufficient. Through our inclusive research and unique educational programming, we work to create a multicultural microcosm that nurtures interaction and engagement with multiple Israeli narratives.
Because a true multicultural campus requires the full participation of all faculty and staff, Ono provides professional training in a variety of areas:
- Workshops in cultural sensitivity
- Seminars on fostering culturally sensitive dialogue
- Field trips to Bedouin towns, ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, Muslim cities, and Druze villages
- A two-year course in spoken Arabic
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING AND FOLLOW-UP
Many of our students represent the first generation of their families to study in college. To facilitate each student’s social and academic integration, boost language skills and ensure their success in this new educational framework, Ono Academic College offers a pre-academic semester of studies hosted at “Empowerment Centers” close to their hometowns, including Nazareth, Yarka, Umm El-Fahem and Kafr Qara.
While Ono’s Bachelor’s degree program equips students with the practical tools and skills they need to succeed in their chosen profession, the college’s individualized employment networks, anchored by the college’s career development office, academic staff and administration, helps all minority students break into and advance within the Israeli workforce. These professional career guidance services are available to all students before and long after graduation from Ono.
MULTICULTURAL MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS
Multiculturalism also lies at the heart of two innovative M.A. programs at Ono Academic College:
- A. in Organizational Behavior – 80 students from all walks of Israeli life are currently enrolled in this program. For their final project, multicultural student pairs work together to create and implement a social justice project for their two communities.
- A. in Jewish Studies – Taught by a diverse faculty of Jewish and Muslim educators of all stripes, this unique course incorporates Sephardic scholarship, traditions, and culture, with a thematic focus on inclusion. Muslim teachers, some of whom teach Hebrew language and literature in Muslim schools, are currently enrolled in this M.A. in Jewish Studies.
CHANGING THE FACE OF ISRAELI SOCIETY
Through Ono’s mandatory course, “Israeli Identity: The Challenge of Living Together,” students of all backgrounds are encouraged to work together to create a powerful, broad and inclusive vision for Israel. In addition, Ono has developed specialized programming that facilitates meaningful interactions between the different cultural groups on our campuses:
- The “havruta” (paired learning) program in which participants from varied backgrounds discuss their personal struggles and challenges with inclusion in Israeli society
- A social justice program that focuses on the ways that social issues impact different Israeli populations
- An incubator for Tikkun Olam organizations in which students take their original, creative ideas for social change and learn how to implement them in practice
- Student-initiated extra-curricular activities in which students from varied backgrounds work together on social-action projects
- Field trips to different cultural and religious institutions