As part of its strategy promoting ties with leading global universities and providing opportunities for Israeli students to develop their international and intercultural skills, Tel Aviv University has initiated a new program to develop collaborative international courses.
Ten such joint courses have been developed on a range of topics, ranging from water challenges and solutions in California and Israel to global and intercultural communication for English language learners. The courses have been created with institutions located in Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, the USA, and Spain.
As part of the program, grants are offered to TAU faculty to jointly develop a course with a faculty member in a partner institution abroad using online platforms and tools. Courses build on the expertise of each faculty member and institution, creating a virtual international classroom that provides new opportunities for student learning and engagement.
One of the courses, “Jerusalem in Archeology and in the Old Testament,” was taught by TAU Professors Oded Lipschits and Yuval Granot, together with colleagues from four other universities. Eighty students from four countries participated in the course. Arik Sasi, an MA student from TAU, reflecting on his experience in the course, said that “this seminar provides a unique experience of learning from other scholars from different disciplines across the world. This exposure to other perspectives which are influenced (among other factors) by cultures, leads to a deeper discussion and opens one’s mind to different and fresh ideas.”
This initiative also presents a special opportunity and experience for the lecturers involved. Kamila Etchegoyen, a lecturer at the Czech Academy of Sciences who collaborated with TAU’s Monica Broido, said: “It is encouraging to see that we share many commonalities and draw on similar principles when teaching Writing for publication in English, but there are still things we can learn from one another. The added bonus is that through our meetings to plan lessons, I also get to learn things about Israel.”
Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President for International Academic Collaboration, Tel Aviv University, added, “During the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to hearing students and teachers complain about the transition to Zoom. But this transition has also created some truly wonderful learning opportunities. Collaborative international courses make it easy for our students to gain international perspectives and create global connections with professors and peers, all without leaving Tel Aviv. Eventually, we’d like every student at TAU to have the privilege of participating in an international course at least once.”
TAU is planning to continue and expand the number of joint international courses with the aim of allowing more TAU students and faculty to benefit from this experience.