Jewish Studies Expansion Program (JSEP)


The Jewish Studies Expansion Program (JSEP) was established in 2008 in response to significant data that showed Jewish studies courses to have the potential to attract students who might not otherwise engage in Jewish life on campus. JSEP creates more opportunities for Jewish learning and engagement at universities that have relatively large Jewish student populations but only limited ability to offer Jewish studies courses and related extracurricular activities.

JSEP Retreat at UC Santa Cruz 2010

A JSEP matching grant permits the hire of a two-year postdoctoral teaching fellow who expands the number of courses offered and helps raise the profile of Jewish studies through cultural programs and other campus activities.

During the 2008-2010 academic years, six universities—American, Northeastern, Ohio, Towson, and Tulane, as well as the University of Delaware—were each awarded funding. This pilot phase of JSEP was supported by a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF).

A second cohort of JSEP fellows expanded the program six new universities in 2010-12: Colgate University, Oberlin College, Portland State University, Syracuse University, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of Arizona.

Meet the 2010-2012 fellows.


The Foundation for Jewish Culture is exploring the possibility of a new round of matching grants in our Jewish Studies Expansion Program to begin in 2014.

Recent Findings

An evaluation of the program conducted by sociologist Tobin Belzer, PhD found that:

  • JSEP expanded the number and breadth of Jewish studies courses, with fellows teaching a total of 52 courses. The annual number of courses available at each school increased by as much as 166%.
  • JSEP boosted enrollment in Jewish studies by a total of 1,456 at the six schools in 2008-10. This was 8% above our projections.
  • JSEP engendered significant connections, community, and learning among both Jewish and non-Jewish undergraduates.
  • Fellows organized and participated in more than 50 events in 2008-10, creating opportunities for students to encounter Jewish studies outside the classroom. Every Fellow produced at least one event that was attended by more than 100 students and community members. Jewish studies directors, students, and the Fellows themselves described how the Fellows became “the face of Jewish studies.”

JSEP also:

  • Increased the visibility of the Jewish studies programs on each campus.
  • Provided junior scholars with opportunities to hone their teaching skills and develop their academic careers.
  • Connected university and private funders in their efforts to promote further Jewish studies opportunities.

Read the full report here.


The Jewish Studies Expansion Program is intended to aid colleges and universities who have a great demand and support for course expansion among students and administrators, but who have only one or two faculty members teaching full time in Jewish studies (or related areas).

Recipients of the Teaching Fellowships will be recent PhDs with strong academic and leadership skills. Fellows will also organize events and lectures on campus, join in scholarly conferences and events, and generally help raise the visibility of Jewish studies on campus.

Please note that the Foundation for Jewish Culture is not directly involved in the hiring of Teaching Fellows. We do not accept resumes from prospective fellows.


The FJC is not currently accepting applications for this program. Please contact the director of the Jewish Studies Expansion Program for further information.

Program Funders

The Jewish Studies Expansion Program is made possible through the generous support of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation (CLSFF) and the San Francisco-based Jim Joseph Foundation.

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