View our Spring 2024 Courses!

The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to announce its lineup of Spring 2024 courses!

1-Credit Courses

  • The Vatican and Nazi/Axis War Criminals | Prof. Suzanne Brown-Fleming | JCIV/INAF 1030
    • When the archives from the pontificate of Venerable Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) opened in March 2020, additional documentation for a long-debated aspect of World War II, Holocaust and postwar history became available: documentation related to Axis and Nazi war criminals who escaped from Europe postwar. Many fled to Latin America, but also to other continents, some with the help of Catholic priests and prelates. New studies and documents bring to light more detail about the so-called “ratline,” and address how much the Vatican Secretariat of State knew or did not know about such activity. In this course, students will read newly published primary source documents, as well as testimonies and films, describing the process of escape. Course meets Jan 17, Jan 31, Feb 7, Feb 21, and March 13.
  • From Resolution to Management and Prevention: The Evolution of the UN’s roles in the Israeli Palestinian Conflict | Director Jonathan LincolnJCIV/INAF 1751
    • Class meets Jan 18, Jan 25, Feb 1, Feb 8, Feb 15. Upon completion of his term as UN Secretary-General in 2006,
      the late Kofi Annan told the Security Council that the region has “shaped the Organization like no other.” Indeed,
      despite the many wars and deep political changes that have occurred in the Middle East since the UN’s founding, it
      is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians and its lack of resolution that continues to cast the longest
      shadow. Although the UN has not been at the center of every effort to resolve this most intractable of conflicts, its
      engagement in favor of partitioning Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, and intervention in the
      aftermath of every major Arab Israeli war, have all solidified its presence on the ground and enmeshed it in the
      region’s tragic politics in unprecedented ways. This course will examine the different phases of UN engagement in
      the Arab Israeli conflict, up to the present. It will focus on the role of member states, the institutional bodies of the
      UN, and that of successive Secretaries-General and their envoys, in the various efforts to manage, resolve and
      prevent violent conflict. The course will also analyze the prerogatives of the actors on the ground, the Israelis, the
      Palestinians, regional stakeholders, and their interplay with the UN’s political, development, humanitarian and
      human rights mechanisms in relation to the conflict. Finally, the course will look at the future of the UN’s
      engagement on the ground in the context of the overall goal of the UN, to maintain international peace and
  • Countering Violent Extremism: The Role We All Play | Prof. Farah PandithJCIV/INAF 1752
    • Over twenty years since the attacks on 9/11, this course will examine the evolution of countering violent extremism (CVE) to the present day and explore the question of where CVE could be 20 years from now. What is the problem we are trying to solve? Why focus on ideology? How and why did CVE come about? Students will gain a historical understanding of how we got to where we are today to answer these questions, as well as explore case studies to understand the roles various sectors play. CVE is a tool that can be activated across sectors (NGOs, gov, multilaterals, tech companies, corporate, etc.), so students of varying academic focus, and as global citizens, are encouraged to join to learn how we can all win against extremism. The course will meet five times over the course of the semester (TBA).
  • Among the Nations: Israel and the Global South | Prof. Grace Wermenbol JCIV/INAF 2002 (CRN 46548)
    • This course analyzes Israel’s relations and foreign policy objectives in the Global South, with a specific focus on Israel’s relations with Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Through this one-credit course, students will examine Israel’s overarching foreign policy aims across the Global South. Moving from the Yishuv’s quest for international legitimacy in the late 1940s to the newly founded state’s focus on “peripheral” security, students will study Israel’s relations with prominent Global South nations. Students will also gain insight into how Israel leverages contemporary relations with small and middle powers to enhance its international standing and influence. This course will meet for 2.5 hours 5 times throughout the semester on the following dates: 17 Jan, 3:30-6pm 31 Jan, 3:30-6pm 14 Feb, 3:30-6pm 28 Feb, 3:30-6pm 13 March, 3:30-6pm.

Core Courses

  • Intro to Jewish Civilization | Prof. Meital Orr (point of contact) and CJC Faculty | JCIV 1990
    • This course will provide a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to understanding Jewish Civilization, and will be taught by a different faculty member from the Center for Jewish Civilization (CJC) every we ek, each of whom will teach the area of their expertise. Students will learn the history of the Jewish people from ancient times to modern-day Israel, including coverage of the Holocaust and the development of Zionism. Students will learn about Judaism through major Jewish texts, denominations, holidays and life-cycle events – and about Jewish culture, through a global lens on Jewish literature, film and music. Students will learn about historic relations between Islam and Judaism, the Arab world and Israel, as well as how to think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Students will also learn about Jewish engagement with American democracy, and global Jewish realities impacted by increasing antisemitism and white supremacism in the 20th and 21st centuries. Having learned about the many foundational aspects of Jewish civilization, students will then have the opportunity to pursue further knowledge in any area of the course, through thematically-based classes at the CJC by any of the experts from whom they have learned in this course. Professor Orr will be the point of contact for students in the class, and help guide them through this multi-disciplinary journey.
  • Jewish Civilization Senior Colloquium | Prof. Anna Sommer | JCIV 4960
    • As part of the Minor in Jewish Civilization students complete a capstone experience: either a traditional research thesis or a project with a creative component. The capstone project will be a topic related to Jewish civilization, prepared under the supervision of a faculty member associated with the Center for Jewish Civilization, the Visiting Professor of Jewish Civilization, Goldman Visiting Israeli Professor, or if appropriate special permission may be granted by the program director for another Georgetown faculty member to serve as essay advisor.

C-Lab Courses

  • CLab: Holocaust Forensics | Fr. Patrick Desbois and Prof. Andrej Umansky JCIV 3100
    • While many students are familiar with the Nazi extermination of Jews in Western Europe during World War II, few know that a parallel effort was waged in the East. There, Nazis killed Jews methodically, but not in mass camps built for extermination. Learn about the forensics of the Holocaust and other mass killings with Fr. Patrick Desbois, a forensic anthropologist and author of “Holocaust by Bullets,” and “The Terrorist Factory.” This course (3cr) and the associated lab (1cr) will train students to analyze forensic investigations of genocide and mass killings, and prepare them to conduct similar investigations on the ground.
  • CLab: Holocaust Forensics fieldwork | Fr. Patrick Desbois and Prof. Andrej Umansky JCIV 3110
    • Instructor approval required. This course has an associated 3 cr course: JCIV 3100. Coursework for JCIV 3100 will be enhanced by this class (JCIV 3110) with travel to and fieldwork in Europe (TBD) over spring break. Students will conduct deep, on-the-ground student research and to look more closely at the people, policies, places and socio-cultural happenings relevant to the course. Students must be enrolled in JCIV 3100 to be eligible for a seat in this class. Admission to this course (JCIV 3110) and the associated 3 cr course (JCIV 3100) is by application and interview. Applications are open September 7-October 3, 2023. Please see JCIV 3100 for more information, requirements, and eligibility.

Film Courses

  • A History Of the Jewish People through Literature and Film | Prof. Meital Orr | JCIV/INAF 1140
    • According to American writer, Pearl S. Buck, “If you want to understand today you have to search yesterday.” This course is a vibrant, comprehensive journey through history that uses a multi-disciplinary approach to bring to life the people, movements and events, that shaped the Jewish nation and left a lasting impact on the world at large. Using not only historical texts, but also documentaries, films, fiction and autobiographical works of literature which communicate a people’s lived experience, the course will comprehensively cover the history of the Jewish people, in detail from ancient to contemporary times. As a result, students will gain a thorough understanding of important movements and events which continue to be of worldwide importance: the birth of Judaism, the creation of the Hebrew Bible, the ideology of Zionism, the experience of the Holocaust, the establishment of a Jewish state and the development of the Middle East conflict. Comprehensive historical coverage will make accessible these complex events, endowing students with both thorough knowledge and the ability to navigate media coverage of these issues in the news today. No prior knowledge of Jewish history or culture is necessary. This course fulfills both the SFS survey history course requirement and early history course requirement, as well as the HALC requirement.
  • Re-Examining the Israel-Palestine Crisis through Literature and Film | Prof. Meital Orr | JCIV/INAF 1770
    • This course will examine how Israeli and Palestinian literatures depict the “other” through text and image, from the early years of Zionism to the twenty-first century. Using the methodologies of comparative studies, we will attempt to understand how each nation’s views evolved and changed over time, with a focus on works which shifted these perceptions in revolutionary ways. Various depictions of the “other” will be examined, such as the criminal, noble hero, sexual predator, the lover, the suicide bomber and the ally. We will also discuss how both art forms grappled with the many issues which together contribute to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, including: identity, language, class and the deceptively simple task of defining homeland. Weekly theoretical readings will provide an analytical framework for understanding, discussing and writing about these works of literature and film at the college level. Among the authors covered are: Yosef Chaim Brenner, S. Yizhar, Benjamin Tammuz, Sami Michael, A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, Savyon Leibrecht, David Grossman, Eli Amir, Etgar Keret, Hanna Ibrahim, Emile Habibi, Atallah Mansour, Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfiq Fayyad, Salah Tamari, Sahar Khalifeh, Sayed Kashua and Samir El-Youssef. All readings and films, literary and critical, will be read in English translation.

Genocide and Theology Studies

  • Holocaust: Gender & Racial Ideology | Prof. Anna Sommer | JCIV/INAF 1763
    • This course will explore the daily lives of men, women and children in Nazi Germany and occupied Europe, both from the perspective of victims, perpetrators and onlookers. The class will discuss to what extent pre-World War II gender roles helped victims not only develop important survival skills, but also affected the decisions of ordinary men and women to become killers. Using primary, secondary sources and film, we will analyze the experiences of men, women, and children during the Holocaust both from the perspective of victims and perpetrators. The different source materials will be historically contextualized to strengthen and expand the understanding of how Nazi policies affected both men and women, while examining how racial theory and the concept of a “master race” contributed to the suffering of Jews and other victims before and during World War II.
  • God and the Goal Posts | Prof. Ori SoltesJCIV/INAF 2753
    • One football player crossing the goal line with the ball in hand, bends on one knee, crosses himself and looks heavenward, thanking God; a second, having dropped what would have been the winning touchdown pass, tweets angrily the next day: “I praise you 24/7 and you do me this?!?!” Sports and religion repeatedly interweave each other in a range of ways. But this is not new–it goes all the way back to the Bible and the Iliad, and the interwoven relationship has cascaded down through history. Moreover, sports has always been a surrogate for war, and war has been dictated by politics–which has often justified itself through religion. And one way we see this clearly is in art, across history and geography. This course will consider the dynamic and fascinating interweave between sports and religion through history, together with the more complex ways in which these two disciplines are interwoven with war, politics, race, gender, and art. It should be an exciting ride, with plenty of twists and turns.
  • The Forensics of Mass Killings | Fr. Patrick Desbois and Prof. Andrej Umansky | JCIV/SEST 4445
    • The Forensics of Mass Killings: Holocaust and Terrorist Crime Scenes. How do you conduct forensic investigations of genocide and mass killings on the ground? How do you examine the killing techniques of genocide and crimes committed in public or secret? How do perpetrators use propaganda for terrorism, genocide and follower recruitment? In the class, Fr. Patrick Desbois, a forensic anthropologist and author of “The Holocaust by Bullets” and “The Terrorist Factory” will answer these questions. Fr. Desbois will familiarize students with his recent investigation of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria against the Yazidis and the crimes carried out by the Einsatzgruppen during the Holocaust. The class will compare ground investigation techniques, crime methodology and outcomes.
  • Hitler, Putin, Ukraine | Prof. Diana Dumitru | JCIV/REES 4462
    • Embark on a profound journey through Ukraine’s history as we delve into the haunting topic of genocide, tracing its roots from the era of Hitler to the present day under Putin’s regime. Through meticulous examination of historical events and political dynamics, students will gain a profound understanding of the tragic occurrences that have shaped Ukraine’s destiny. Engaging with primary sources and expert analyses, participants will critically evaluate the far-reaching impact of genocidal actions against Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war on the nation’s culture, identity, and its relationships with neighbors. The course will also shed light on the complex politics of memory surrounding the Holocaust in Eastern Europe and its relevance in Russia’s war against Ukraine, offering insight into how historical narratives can be manipulated for political purposes.

International Affairs and Diplomacy Courses

  • Untangling the Middle East: Religion, Politics, and Ethnicity | Prof. Ori Soltes | JCIV/INAF 1759
    • This course will approach the Middle East quagmire by way of a historical discussion that centers on the problem of conflicting and confusing definitions and aspirations, both for those within the region and for those outside trying to  understand what is operative within. The starting point will be theological, but the endpoint will be the interweaving of religion with other issues, such as politics, ethnicity, nationalism and economics. The goal is less to presume to solve the problem than to have a clearer understanding of why it is so difficult to solve.
  • Israel and World Politics | Amb. Zion Evrony | JCIV/INAF 2762
    • This course will focus on Israel’s foreign policy and diplomacy from 1948 until the present. We will discuss the main characteristics of its foreign policy, the tension between ideology and “realpolitik” and the decision making process. We will analyze Israel’s relations with the United States, the European Union, Russia, the Arab states, Iran, Turkey, Africa, and the Vatican. Key documents of Israel’s diplomatic history will be analyzed. The course will include a discussion of “diplomatic language”, the functions of Israeli embassies and consulates, diplomatic ranking and protocol, public diplomacy and diplomatic immunity.
  • Global Secularisms | Prof. Jacques Berlinerblau | JCIV/GOVT 2916
    • Secularism stands as one of the most controversial and convoluted -isms in the global political lexicon. Not a day goes by without a religious leader, usually of the Fundamentalist variety, decrying the scourge of secularism. Conversely, in many countries, secular nationalists demand that their governments adopt, or abide by, secular principles of governance. The latter are assumed to assure equal rights for women and LGBTQ communities, while protecting religious minorities and guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom from religion. In short, secularism is tasked with delivering a lot of goods! The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the exceedingly complex, but exceedingly fascinating concept of political secularism.
  • Race, Religion, and Terrorism | Prof. Ed Husain | JCIV/INAF 3352
    • Going beyond America, this course takes a global approach to identity, race and religion. We do this through history, ideas, political movements, narratives, geopolitics, and assess the consequences for world order. We seek to understand race, religion, and terror not as the past, but as a study of the patterns and causes of change. Students are then able to connect the dots between the past and present of major terrorist movements and/or conflicts. We evaluate future trajectories for the intersection of race, religion, and terrorism.
  • Combating Terrorist Financing 20 Years after 9/11 | Prof. Matthew Levitt | JCIV 3910/SEST 4444
    • This course explores how terrorists and terrorist organizations—from Foreign Terrorist Organizations like al Qaeda and the Islamic State to Domestic Violent Extremist groups like anti-government militias and white supremacist organizations—are funded and resourced, how they move and access money, and how governments and other international actors seek to combat the financing of transnational threats. The course considers what the goals of counter-terror financing efforts are or should be, and whether these efforts are effective, worthwhile and how to improve them. It investigates how terrorist groups finance their activities and transfer funds, and analyses key choke points through which illicit funds may flow.
  • Fascism and its Legacy | Prof. Diana DumitruJCIV/REES 4464
    • What are the origins and manifestations of fascism? Why did fascist ideology entice so many Europeans from different social backgrounds between World Wars I and II? Is fascism something that belongs to the history of the 20th Century, or are thereparallels with what some call fascism today? In this course students will find responses to these and related questions, learning about the nature of fascism as an ideology and as a set of practices. The course will explore the birth and first flourishing of fascism in interwar Italy, Germany, Romania, Hungary, and other regions, before turning to its legacy for today’s far-right populism and debates about fascism’s resurgence.
  • Statecraft and Negotiation | Amb. Dennis Ross | JCIV/INAF 4750
    • This course will look at American foreign policy through the lens of statecraft. Statecraft involves the orchestration of all the instruments of power and influence to protect against threats and to promote broad national interests. Key elements of statecraft include developing strategy, defining objectives and purposes, identifying the means available for pursuing that strategy, and then knowing how best to employ those means. If there is one instrument or policy tool that is central to nearly all forms of statecraft, it is negotiations. This course will thus take a closer look at the American approach to negotiations and how best to pursue them. It will also explore mediation as a policy tool for helping to settle or defuse local and sectarian conflicts and as a means of promoting a more favorable image of the U.S. internationally. In doing so, it will present a practitioner’s guide and set of specific rules for negotiations and mediation.
  • The Middle East: Society, State & International Relations | Prof. Avraham Sela | GOVT 4452 (X-listed, fulfilling JCIV elective requirements) (CRN 46893)
    • The course introduces the social and political history of the modern Middle East, which had long been marked by domestic instability, regional conflicts, and intensive intervention of great powers politics. These attributes are especially identified with the Arab states, many of which are identified with authoritarianism, economic underdevelopment and resistance to democracy. These characteristics will be analyzed in a historical-thematic and comparative approach with special attention to social, economic, and political processes, including state- and nation-building, state-society relations, the shaping of state power and political economy, all of which had a long-term impact on the recent Arab uprisings and their consequences. Attention will also be given to regional interactions among states and nonstate actors in the context of domestic and regional conflicts and the built-in tensions between supra-state Arab and Islamic visions and identities, and the sovereign states as particular international players. In this context, the course also addresses the structural transformation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, oil and politics, the rise of political Islam and jihadism, and the question of ‘exceptionalism’ concerning the region’s inclination toward authoritarianism and rejection of democratization.
  • Conflict Management & Resolution-Arab Israeli Case | Prof. Avraham Sela | GOVT 5419 (X-listed, fulfilling JCIV elective requirements) (CRN 46894)
    • The course aims to attain a better understanding of the human phenomenon of international and intra-state conflicts and the conditions that might enable their management and/or resolution by peaceful means. Based on the broad body of theoretical literature and the accumulated experience of practically addressing varied types of conflicts since the end of the Cold War, the course explains the causes of conflicts on both international and intra-state levels and the conditions determining the forms and processes of their management and settlement. Moreover, it strives to identify the development of the literature in this field as a process of trial and error and lessons learned from ongoing experience in conflict resolution. The course thus scrutinizes the existing approaches to and instruments of conflict management and resolution such as ripeness, learning, and legitimacy, mediation, negotiations and international intervention, official and unofficial diplomacy, and more. In this context, the course examine the role of social psychology, memory and identity in determining the results of peacemaking processes, especially at the phase of implementation of signed agreements. Against this conceptual background, the course offers a critical examination of the long and rich experience of the international efforts of managing and resolving the conflict between Israel and its neighbors, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It thus examines empirical examples and case-studies based on the Arab-Israeli experience of conflict and diplomatic processes, especially the long-lived American role of mediation in this conflict, its successes and failures. Indeed, much of the literature on conflict resolution is based on the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict in both theory and practice. This is due to the high-profile of international interest in Israel and the Middle East coupled by the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the relative abundance and availabiltiy of documents on ist wars and peace-making efforts, all of which keeps attracting the interest of scholars in the fields of conflict and peace studies.

Hebrew Courses

  • Intensive Beginning Modern Hebrew II | Prof. Sara Grayson | HEBR 1002
    • This course assumes prior knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet and grammar covered in HEBR 1001 or equivalent ability on the placement exam. It builds upon the foundational reading, writing, comprehension and speaking taught in the fall semester, and covers a wider range of vocabulary and grammar, including the present and pasttense of the most common verb types. The course is an intensive, interactive program, meeting four times per week and equivalent to 6 credits per semester. The semester is equivalent to 1 year of college Hebrew at most institutions (which offer 3 credits per semester of Hebrew).
  • Intermediate Modern Hebrew II | Prof. Meital Orr | HEBR 2002
    • This course develops students’ language skills taught in HEBR 2001. Expanded verb conjugations in the past, present and future tenses for additional verb types are taught, and proficiency is developed through conversations using increasingly complex grammar and vocabulary, reading and discussing passages and newspaper articles, and viewing and analyzing Israeli songs, films and TV shows. Five attendances per semester at conversation hour are required. Requirement: One year of Intensive Beginning Hebrew, or equivalent proficiency on the Hebrew Placement Exam.
  • Advanced Modern Hebrew II | Prof. Sara Grayson | HEBR 3002
    • This course builds upon the advanced grammar and verb paradigms taught in HEBR 3001, to attain a high level of proficiency. Students utilize the knowledge they have gained the previous semester to read and analyze un-adapted Israeli newspaper articles and works by Israeli authors, engage in extensive writing exercises, and review movies and Israeli TV shows. Fluency in speaking and knowledge of the formal vocabulary used in the media is a main goal of conversations, and foundational preparation for the proficiency exam. Requirement: Intensive Beginning and Intermediate Hebrew, or equivalent proficiency on the Hebrew Placement Exam.