The Humanities Division brings together leading Israeli researchers from a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. The head of the Division is Prof. Sergiu Hart.
The Division’s activities include supporting research projects; organizing international symposia, seminars and lectures; and investigating topics relating to the various humanities and social sciences disciplines. The Division also promotes activities initiated by its members and works to help scholars advance in the early stages of their academic careers.
The Academy supports several large-scale projects of national import. Its projects in the humanities focus on the history of the Jewish people and Eretz Israel (Palestine), and the study of Hebrew poetry, including the Onomasticon of Iudaea • Palaestina and Arabia in the Greek and Latin Sources and the Ezra Fleischer Geniza Research Institute for Hebrew Poetry.
The Academy is participating in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica project of publishing critical editions of Hebrew works composed in medieval Germany, and it supports the Middle Persian Dictionary Project.
The Division works extensively to strengthen the standing of the humanities. Its activities over the years have been instrumental in mobilizing greater funding for the humanities from public sources and from philanthropic organizations such as the Fund for the Advancement of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel.
In the framework of its role of fostering scholarly activity and advising the government on subjects pertaining to scientific research and planning, the Academy periodically appoints committees to study various topics. In June 2017, the Academy formed a committee to examine the field of Holocaust Studies in academic institutions in Israel. The committee, chaired by Academy member Prof. Israel Bartal, published a report summarizing its work: The State of Holocaust Studies in Research Universities and Colleges in Israel – 2020.
Information on past committee work can be found under Past Projects.
In 2009, as the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities celebrated its jubilee year, the Academy’s Council established a series of annual lectures in the humanities and social sciences named for the Academy’s first president, Prof. Martin Buber. In keeping with Buber’s scholarly path, the lectures in the series touch upon a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and target a broad audience of scholars and laypersons.
The Division invites lecturers from outside the Academy to deliver guest lectures. It organizes seminars honoring senior Academy members and commemorating those who have passed away.
Each year, the Division selects a cohort of about twelve scholars in the early stages of their academic careers for its Young Scholars Forum in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The forum serves as a think tank of outstanding researchers in a variety of disciplines, which meets to discuss a particular broad subject, unique to each cohort, with each member contributing his or her unique perspective. The group is mentored by an Academy member with expertise in the broad subject area. A cohort’s activity lasts from one to two years, as determined jointly by the mentor and the group.
Since 2009, the Division has worked with the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to organize the German Israeli Frontiers of the Humanities Symposia (GISFOH), a series of interdisciplinary conferences in the humanities, each involving fifty young scholars from Israel and Germany. Their aim is to bring together outstanding young researchers from different fields and challenge them to think and explore beyond disciplinary boundaries, enabling cross-fertilization and creating channels for the exchange of academic knowledge.