The Modern State of Israel: Politics, Economics & Ethnicity

Students at ruins overlooking water

About This Program

  • Location: Tel Aviv, Israel - Tel Aviv University
  • Term: Spring Quarter
  • Language of Instruction: English
  • Eligibility: Open to NU and non-NU students meeting NU's minimum application requirements

Spring Quarter 2015

  • Application deadline: November 1
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: November 1
  • Program dates: Sunday, March 29 (date of arrival in Tel Aviv) - Sunday, June 14 (date of departure from Tel Aviv)

Spring Quarter 2015: $19,312

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $15,612, includes: 

Estimated additional costs: $3,700, includes:

  • $1,500 round trip airfare to Tel Aviv, Israel (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $200 for books and supplies
  • $2,000 for discretionary expenses, including meals, personal travel/transportation, etc

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities


The Modern State of Israel: Politics, Economics & Ethnicity focuses on the political and party system in Israel, Israeli economic and social development, and Israel's unique ethnic structure of Jewish immigrant groups and the Arab and Druze minority populations. Through site visits to historical and archeological sites and health facilities, the program will explore Israel's unique historical-religious heritage and widely diverse ethnic, religious, cultural, political, national, and social groups. Students will investigate contemporary issues facing these populations, including programs and policies to confront political, social, economic, and health disparities. 

Host institution: Tel Aviv University (TAU) is Israel's largest comprehensive university, with approximately 29,000 students. TAU has excellent programs in the natural and physical sciences, engineering, and math, as well as in the social sciences, arts, music, and humanities. Faculty in the School of Public Health at the Sackler School of Medicine and the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, are involved in the program. The Dayan Center is the leading think-tank and research center on Middle Eastern history and politics, with the largest archive on the Arab world in Israel. 

Housing & meals

Students live in the Einstein Dormitory complex at TAU, which contains suites with one or two shared bedrooms as well as a kitchen, bedroom, air conditioning, WiFi, and cable TV. Students will share a bedroom, likely with antoher international student at TAU. Students are responsible for the cost of all meals. 

Safety and security note

This program is located in a country under a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and operates with special permission under the University's travel policy. Students enrolled in this program will be required to adhere to additional security measures and sign a release acknowledging the Travel Warning. The program is subject to suspension or modification at any time. These matters will be discussed in more detail during advising appointments and pre-departure orientation. 


This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the Northwestern courses listed below. All courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcript and are figured into their Northwestern GPA.

HISTORY 301-SA-1: Israeli Society - Identity, Nation-Building and Ethnicity

  • 1 credit
  • Course Instructor: Elie Rekhess

This course explores Israel’s national identity through an analysis of the “Proclamation of Independence,” and a discussion of the interrelationship between Judaism, Jewish peoplehood, Israeli nationality and citizenship. The course then proceeds to examine the nation-building process: the transformation from “Yishuv” to sovereignty, the formation of state institutions, and the electoral system. The third part of the course explores Israel’s multi-faceted society, including the in-gathering of the Exiles and the three major entho-cultural cleavages: Mizrahim-Ashkenazim, Religious-Secular, and Arab-Jewish.

GBL HLTH 390-SA: Public Health in Israel

  • 1 credit
  • Course Instructor: Gabriel Chodick

This course is an introduction to the public and community health system of Israel. The course will cover the evolution of public and general health services since the early days of the nation, the influence of the Universal Health Insurance Act of 1994, and the examination of critical health issues confronting Israel. Programming models, theories, and policy development specific to the Israeli society are included. 

GBL HLTH 310-SA: Supervised Global Health Research Seminar - Socioeconomic & Health Disparities Among Immigrants and Minorities in Israel

  • 1 credit
  • Course Instructors: Elie Rekhess and Gabriel Chodick

This research seminar will provide an opportunity for teams of students to develop and elaborate research projects that analyze the socioeconomic and public health challenges facing minority and under-served populations in Israel. The focus will be on the social, political, and economic determinants of health disparities in Israel and the importance of developing locally relevant solutions.

POLI SCI 390-SA: Political Economy of Israel

  • I credit
  • Course Instructor: Paul Rivlin

This course examines the way in which the Israel economy has developed. It looks at demographic and political factors as well as the conflict with the Arabs that have all played important roles in determining the pattern of development. The course will examine the way in which Israel has moved from state-directed to market-orientated economic policies and the implications for government spending, public health programs and the socio-economy.


Tour of the South

Students will take an overnight trip to visit the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth and one of Israel's most visited tourist spots. While there, students will climb to the top of Masada, a natural fortress with great historical and architectural significance, and visit caves in Qumran National Park, where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. 

Tour of the North

Students will explore various sites in the regions north of Tel Aviv, which are known for their scenic beauty, rich history, and religious significance. Visits may include Haifa, Tibernias, Safed, and Acre, among others. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Druze villages and learn about their cultures and faith.