International Field Study in Israel: Building a Civil Society in the Middle East

Summer 1 term 2017: May 15-July 7

Enhance your understanding of the historical, social, and cultural context of contemporary issues challenging those who work toward a more peaceful and equitable future for the residents of Israel. The ongoing work in this field is a model for broader social change in the Middle East, and a key to understanding contemporary international relations.

This field experience is part of the eight-week 2017 Summer 1 term and is open to students pursuing degrees in a wide range of fields. Students will study online and through a field experience, spending three weeks in Israel and choosing from one of three courses. Learning activities will include field trips and guest lectures by leading experts in the field.

Field Experience Dates: May 29 - June 17

Program Details

This course is offered in collaboration with Givat Haviva, an established educational institution leading the way in creating a shared society for all of Israel’s residents. Along with the opportunity to receive 4 credits, students will gain on-the-ground exposure to important contemporary issues. All students will be expected to participate in the on-line orientation module before the field experience and will be expected to participate in all instructional activities and field trips. Post-field experience studies will be completed online.

Field experience activities will take place between Sunday-Thursday of each week, leaving time for leisure and travel on Fridays and Saturday.

Students must discuss this learning opportunity with their primary mentor (at Empire State College) or academic advisor (at other colleges). There are no prerequisites for any of the courses. Participants will be accepted based on their application. A $500 payment towards the total field experience fee is due upon application.



Introduction to Arabic

4 credits, introductory, liberal, fully meets the SUNY general education requirement in Foreign Language

Students enrolled in this study will gain the ability to speak contemporary Arabic, using an experiential approach to language learning that incorporates cultural content, various media (films, poetry etc.) and advanced technology. Through this immersive residency, students will have the opportunity to practice their Arabic by visiting neighboring villages and interacting with others in residence at the institution, such as the Israeli Arab youth movement Ajyal, and teachers of Arabic in Israeli high schools.

Photography as a Bridge Between Cultures

4 credits, introductory or advanced, liberal, fully meets the SUNY general education requirement in The Arts

Students will gain skills in photography, and an understanding of how art can be used to learn about other cultures.  Students will also learn how to curate exhibits with a social mission, making use of Givat Haviva's "Peace Gallery".

Other possible activities include meeting with the "Through Others' Eyes" project (a group of Jewish and Arab Israeli women who are learning photography skills as a way of learning more about each other); visiting the nearby town of Kfar Qara; conversations with artists who are in residence at Givat Haviva.

Leadership for a Sustainable Democracy in the Middle East

4 credits, introductory or advanced, liberal, fully meets the SUNY general education requirement in Other World Civilizations.

Students will learn the theory and practice of leadership, integrating conflict-resolution and dialogic skills that help construct a resilient and sustainable democracy. The application of cutting-edge leadership models at the state, community, organizational, inter-group and inter-personal levels will provide students with exposure in basic negotiation, mediation and facilitation techniques.

Case studies and simulations will provide students with the challenges leaders face in implementing these leadership models and traits in complex social situations and in constructing a resilient, sustainable democracy. Special attention will be given to the Palestinian – Israeli and the internal Israeli Jewish-Arab complex situation.  Complexities of these situations will be better understood via extra curricular activities including fieldtrips and meetings with leaders from the region. The meetings with leaders will also complement analytic class activities and provide an opportunity for students to examine and synthesize theory and practice.

Additional Information

What is Givat Haviva and what does it offer?

Givat Haviva aims to build an inclusive, socially cohesive society in Israel by engaging divided communities in collective action towards the advancement of a sustainable, thriving Israeli democracy based on mutual responsibility, civic equality and a shared vision of the future. Founded in 1949 as the national education center of the Kibbutz Federation in Israel in Israel, Givat Haviva facilitates cross-community projects, leads training and capacity building activities, convenes seminars, workshops and conferences to cultivate concrete ideas to foster change, and helps translate these ideas into action.

A leader in its field for more than six decades, and the only educational institution in Israel that has been working with Jews and Arabs consistently since its founding, Givat Haviva was awarded The UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in 2001 for its longstanding work in promoting Jewish-Arab dialogue and reconciliation. The campus of Givat Haviva is located in Wadi Ara, a long valley in the north of Israel with a mixed population of Jews, Muslims and Christians. Learn more at:


Tuition and fees are not included in the trip package and must be paid separately as part of your regular registration. Financial aid may be available, depending on individual eligibility.

The field experience package is $5,300 and includes:

  • Round-trip international flights from JFK Airport to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport and standard luggage allowance by carrier.
  • Ground transportation to the field experience host institution.
  • Two half-day trips each week.
  • One full day trip each week
  • 25 hours of instruction each week
  • Full board
  • Accommodations in double-occupancy rooms with private bathroom and wi-fi access
  • International health insurance

Participants are responsible for their own transportation to and from JFK International Airport, passport, travel costs on free days, and spending money.
Texts and other required reading materials will be available through the Empire State College Bookstore



International Field Study in Israel coordinator, Dr. Efrat Levy
Phone: 518-783-6203


The application deadline is March 1, 2017. Applications received after this date will be reviewed, but may be subject to increased charges for international travel. Request application materials by contacting Dr. Levy directly.

Take the Next Step

Ready to advance your education and career? There’s no time like the present. Apply now, or learn more about SUNY Empire at one of our information sessions.