On November 14, 2012, the Council for Higher Education in Israel held a study day on "Social Engagement – Academia's Third Mission" addressing the engagement of academia in the community.
The study day took place at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design which was granted Excellent Institution Award by the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education (CHE) for developing and teaching fifteen courses which integrate social action in the academic year 2010 – 2011. The courses demonstrate the exceptional social involvement in the community and the ability of academia to advance engagement in the community characterized by awareness and high quality.
The study day included three sessions:
In the first session, the Planning and Budgeting Committee's policy was discussed. Professor Faisal Azaiza, Chairman of the PBC Steering Committee for the Involvement of Academia in the Community, presented the PBC's policy on academia's engagement in the community. Press here for the presentation. Professor Azaiza's involvement in the field contributed to significant changes in both academia and the PBC.
Afterwards, Professor Manuel Trachtenberg, Chairman of the PBC, gave a lecture on the role of academia in Israeli society. Professor Trachtenberg presented his doctrine on the subject which breaks through the borders of academia and emphasizes the central role of academia in Israeli society in a warm, moving and informed way.
The second session featured the flagship projects, that is, the "core" projects of the institutions of higher education which utilize the relative advantage of each academic institution in the social and geographic area they are working in. Projects like these turn the institution into an inseparable part of the community which surrounds it, thus strengthening the positive impact of academia on the Israeli society. The concept is based on understanding that in addition to academia's leading role in developing, preserving and disseminating knowledge it has a social mission, too, and it is expected to fulfill it.
Lectures given in the second session:
- The session was opened by Dr. Roni Strier who is leading the flagship project at the University ofHaifa titled "Partnership for the Development of Solidarity and for Challenging Social Exclusion". The project is based on vast academic knowledge which has been accumulated in the field of social exclusion, and on understanding that in order to lead a true change in the community, academia must not come to the community with a patronizing or "educating" attitude, but instead as a true, equal and long-term partner, and it must be ready to learn from the community and change together with it, too. The aim of the project is to provide effective tools to Haifa's underprivileged neighborhoods in order to deal with social exclusion on a daily basis, especially in areas like education, culture and health care. The project was presented jointly by Dr. Roni Strier, Ms. Dasi Posten Aizik, the project's manager, and Ms. Silvi Zguri, the community's representative. Press here for the presentation.
- The second lecture, about the "Hothouse for Social Entrepreneurship" of the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, was given by the President of the College, Professor Nehemia Friedland. The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo runs a unique project that encourages and trains students to initiate, establish and run projects for social change in Yaffo and south Tel Aviv. The program provides guidance to students from the first year, during which they are required to participate in the social entrepreneurship course and receive practical training, through the second and third year, during which the students go through different stages until their initiatives are adopted by the community. In case of need, the program provides guidance to the students and their social initiatives also after they completed their degree. The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo is an example of an academic institution where the social involvement has been adopted as a policy by the top management (President of the College, Prof. Nehemia Friedland). The project was presented by Prof. Nehemia Friedland, and by Ms. Ella Hassona who developed a unique environmental initiative and introduced it to schools in Yaffo. For her special contribution, Ms. Ella Hassona was granted the Shosh Berlinsky-Sheinfeld Award by the CHE's Planning and Budgeting Committee in a moving awards ceremony at the end of the study day. Press here for The presentation.
- The third lecture, featuring the National Union of Students' project in Lod, was given by Mr Yuval Bdolach, Head of the National Union of Students Department for the Social Involvement, who leads the project. Within the framework of the project, titled RE-LOD, many students come to live in Lod and work with the residents for social change in the city. Press here for The presentation.
In the third session, academic courses integrating social action were presented and the session was dedicated to the memory of Professor Miriam Schlesinger. She led the Community Interpreting course at the Bar Ilan University and was supposed to present it, but to our great sorrow she died from cancer a few days before the study day. We offer our most heartfelt condolences to the family and the Bar IlanUniversity.
The session opened with a speech by Dr. Daphna Golan, the member of the Involvement of Academia in the Community Steering Committee, in memory of Prof. Miriam Schlesinger.
Lectures given in the third session:
- The lecture on the community interpreting was given by Dr. Michal Schuster who developed and taught the course jointly with Prof. Miriam Schlesinger. Dr. Schuster emphasized the importance and power of such a course both on the academic and community level. Press here for The presentation.
- The study day was concluded with a presentation by Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Bezalel was chosen by the Steering Committee of the Social Involvement of Academia and Students in the Community as the Excellent Institute of the academic year 2010 – 2011 for its large range of courses integrating social action and for their academic qualities. In 2010, when the Planning and Budgeting Committee launched the new budgeting model for activities, Bezalel opened 15 courses integrating social action in which almost 300 students participated. Bezalel went out into the community in a wide range of areas, and the courses integrating social action reflect the involvement of both the top management and a number of departments, including architecture, photography, industrial design, visual communication and many multidisciplinary courses. Ms. Shelly Hershko, Dean of Students Office and lecturer, presented Bezalel's vision. Architect Liat Briks Etgar, lecturer at the Architecture Department, presented the course "From Formalist Architecture to Point of Reference", and Ms. Ruth Kantor, lecturer at the Visual Communication Department, together with two students Maya Yehezkel and Ori Barry presented the course "The State is Me".
The study day was moderated by Ms. Yael Siman Tov Cohen, senior employee of CHE in charge of society, community and preparatory courses.