WT’s Crowley chosen for summer intensive in Israel


By Chip Chandler

West Texas A&M University’s Courtney Crowley recently returned from an immersive tour of Israel as part of a competitive faculty fellowship that attracted professors around the world.

Crowley, an instructor of history, and 12 other professors spent about two weeks at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., before a 10-day trip to Israel for the Summer Institute for Israel Studies, part of Brandeis’ Schusterman Center for Israel Studies.

“This was my third visit to Israel, but this fellowship will enrich my teaching far more than any other experience possibly could,” Crowley said. “No matter how deeply I study Israeli history, and regardless of how many books I read, it's almost impossible to understand how wondrously rich, diverse, and complex is modern Israel. Indeed, when most Americans think about Israel, they think about conflict, but that's simply one small piece of a much larger puzzle.”

During the Israel tour, fellows engaged with Jewish and Arab intellectuals, politicians and community leaders, encountering diverse voices and viewpoints.

“Never has teaching about Israel been more urgent,” said Jonathan D. Sarna, Schusterman Center director and the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis. “Too many people only view Israel from afar, through the media. To help students properly contextualize and understand contemporary developments requires well-informed experts who know Israel at first-hand. So as soon as the opportunity arose to bring our program back to Israel, we seized it.”

The fellows were based in Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, while also exploring the West Bank, East Jerusalem, holy sites, the Holocaust Memorial and elsewhere.

The 2021 cohort included participants from the Czech Republic and Switzerland, as well as Hawaii, Maryland, West Virginia, Colorado and Texas, among others. To date, the program has prepared 336 professors at 235 institutions across North America and around the world to teach Israel Studies in their respective disciplines.

“Israel makes an appearance in most of my classes at WT, and much of the teaching and writing I do beyond campus is about Israel in one form or another,” Crowley said. “That's why I was incredibly proud to represent not only myself, but also WT and the Texas Panhandle when traveling this summer.”

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