Strengthening the Humanities

The Steering Committee, headed by Prof. Yossi Shain, will develop a well-defined work plan for implementing the multiannual program to promote the humanities, including concrete recommendations, prioritization, timetable and how to implement the program.

Minister of Education and CHE Chairman Naftali Bennett said, “The Jewish People are the people of the book, and as a leading country, we strive towards excellence in high-tech and the sciences as well as in the humanities: literature, poetry, Bible research, history and languages. Over the past decade, faculties of humanities have been seriously struggling, and we want to turn the trend around and increase the percentage of students, restoring these departments to their natural position as leading centers of research in Israel and around the world.”


The CHE and PBC recently decided to establish a joint steering committee to promote the humanities. It will be tasked with developing a well-defined work plan to implement the multiannual program to promote the humanities, including concrete recommendations, prioritization, timetable and how to implement the program. Prof. Yossi Shain, PBC member, will head the Committee. When the Committee completes its work, it will submit recommendations to the CHE and the PBC on how to implement the program.

The Steering Committee was established after a comprehensive review of the issue by a professional committee headed by Prof. Malka Rappaport Hovav, which found that the humanities are suffering from continual erosion, and resources must be allocated to build a system-wide program to combat this trend.


Chairperson of the PBC, Yaffa Zilbershats stressed that the CHE and PBC believe that promoting the humanities at institutions of higher education is extremely important. According to her, in recent years there has been a downward trend in the status of these faculties, which can be seen, among other things, in a lower number of students, the closing of faculties and a sharp decline in research budgets. In light of the above, a significant budget has been allocated in the multiannual plan of the CHE and PBC for 2016-2021 to reverse the trend and provide budgetary and academic solutions for the various needs. It was also decided to establish a Steering Committee, as previously mentioned.


The roles of the Steering Committee:

The Steering Committee will come up with a series of concrete recommendations to promote the humanities at institutions of higher education, across the board, over the next five years – the scope of the activity, including the priorities and how they should be implemented.

The Committee will help promote and develop the humanities in the face of a changing world and the focus on technology.

The Committee will be responsible for coordinating the initiatives and various parties involved in promoting all aspects of the humanities, including the institutions of higher education in Israel and abroad, the education system, cultural institutions and other organizations involved in promoting the humanities.



The CHE and PBC emphasize that the humanities in Israel and worldwide are undergoing change:

The number of students is continually declining at universities.

The inconsistency between the general budgets and the needs for research in the humanities leads to a lack of adequate budgets for research students, and a significant reduction in the number of courses offered (required and elective).

Reduction in instruction in fields of knowledge/languages (lacking students and faculty).

Outdated teaching and research infrastructures: Libraries, collections of books and databases, as well as faculty lounges, classrooms, etc.

All this and more create a cycle of erosion in the status of the humanities at universities in recent years.



Composition of the Steering Committee:

Chairman of Committee –. Prof. Yossi Shain – PBC Member, Political Science, Tel-Aviv University

Prof. Sason Shaik – Institute of Chemistry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Hossam Haick – Chemical Engineering Faculty and Nanotechnology Institute, the Technion

Prof. Miron Isakson – Department of Literature of the Jewish People, Bar-Ilan University

Prof. Aviva Halamish – CHE Member, Department of History, Philosophy and Judaic Studies, The Open University

Prof. Yoav Ariel – Philosophy and East Asian Studies, Tel Aviv University

Dr. Asher Ragen – Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Head of the Academic Excellence Program, Yad Hanadiv

Shai Lavi – Ethics, Director of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Prof. Shulamit Almog – Law and Literature, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

Dr. Nissim Otmazgin – representative of the Israel Young Academy (member of the Humanities Committee of the Israel Young Academy), Asian Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem