About Jewish Studies

Jewish culture and religion have flourished in a rich variety of forms and in remarkably disparate places for thousands of years. Jewish contributions have deeply affected the art, language and literature, law, philosophy, and political thought, and the sciences of all nations. The global impact of Jewish culture thus warrants its study as an important component of the liberal arts curriculum at KU. The Jewish Studies Program at KU is the only such program in the state of Kansas. Its mission is to celebrate in the US heartland the Jewish experience and promote the understanding of its cultural importance with courses and academic programs that focus on the history, diversity, culture,  languages, thought, and practices of the Jewish people and their religion.


The Program

Jewish Studies offers an undergraduate major (BA in Jewish Studies) and minor, Departmental Honors (both by research paper and by service learning), and courses in Jewish Studies, Hebrew, and Yiddish. We co-sponsor courses in other units including History, Political Science, Religious Studies, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Linguistics. Among our several focus areas are Judaic studies, identities and ethnicities, languages and narratives, history and archaeology, and applied service in Jewish organizations.

Among the oldest of academic interdisciplinary studies, dating back to the 19th century, Jewish studies explores Judaism, the Jewish people, their culture, and their role in the shaping of human experience. The breadth of Jewish studies is extensive, with a strong foundation in biblical scholarship and the ancient world combined with more recent study of European, American, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern history. It is relevant to every department and program in the humanities and social sciences. The Jewish Studies Program prepares students for graduate school and for careers in a broad spectrum of fields from public policy, community service, education, law, and in Jewish agencies, federations, and community centers. The Jewish Studies minor fits neatly with several KU majors, such as Political Science, History, and Religious Studies.