Study abroad program in Israel set to launch in 2011

A first-of-its-kind communications class at Penn State -- a six-week study abroad program that allows students to gather a unique perspective on Israeli culture and media -- will begin this summer.

The class, COMM 499 Media, Culture and Society in Israel, will be led by Amit Schejter, an associate professor in the College of Communications who has been a faculty member at the University since 2004.

Students selected for the intensive program will take a six-week course examining the Israeli media system and the cultural context in which it operates and will take part in a series of field trips. Those include visits to leading media outlets and cultural institutions as well as minority media apparatuses serving Israeli-Arabs, new immigrants and religious communities.

In addition, students will meet with Israeli journalists, media makers, law and policymakers, and foreign journalists covering Israel.

“Participants in the program will get a multifaceted view of Israel. Israel is one of the few places in the world where every major news organization has a presence,” Schejter said. “They’ll be able to gain an understanding of the multidimensional aspects of media and combine a comparative view of a media system with an understanding of the effects of international media on local culture.

“In addition, students will have the opportunity to experience Israel and all its diverse cultural offerings first hand.”

Tel Aviv is a vibrant city that was recently ranked third in the “top ten cities for 2011” list compiled by the international travel guide Lonely Planet. The guide emphasizes Tel Aviv as a city that “reveals itself as a truly diverse 21st-century Mediterranean hub” and “is also the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes.”

Only 16 students will be selected for the program, and they will earn six credits -- equal to two courses -- during the six-week program.

Schejter said the course and trip would provide a strong starting point for students who have never traveled internationally before. At the same time, he believes the program would allow students who have been to Israel before the opportunity to earn valuable credits while being exposed to aspects of Israel not typically experienced by the average tourist and learning about the country and its media systems.

Students selected for the program will pay in-state tuition for their credits. More details about the program, including information about applying, the cost and sources for financial aid, may be obtained from Julia Law in the Office of Global Programs at Penn State (jbk14@psu.edu), or Penny Repsher in the College of Communications’ advising office (psr4@psu.edu). More information may be found at http://global.psu.edu/ea online.

Prior to his arrival at Penn State, Schejter spent a decade holding senior executive positions in Israel's telecommunications arena, including chief of staff and senior adviser to two secretaries of education and culture, general counsel for Israeli public broadcasting and vice president of Israel's largest mobile operator.

In addition, he served on and chaired a variety of public committees, counseled media and telecommunication entities in Israel and the Palestinian Authority and held the post of assistant professor at Tel Aviv University.

His books include "The Wonder Phone in the Land of Miracles: Mobile Telephony in Israel" (co-authored with Akiba Cohen and Dafna Lemish, Hampton Press, 2008), "...And Communications for All: A Policy Agenda for A New Administration" (Lexington Books, 2009) and "Muting Israeli Democracy: How Media and Cultural Policies Undermine Freedom of Expression" (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming in 2009).

At Penn State Schejter teaches courses on telecommunications regulation, media law, the media and information industries, comparative and world media systems and media activism. During the 2010-11 academic year, he serves as a visiting professor in Ben Gurion University of the Negev and as a Mundus Journalism Scholar at the universities of Amsterdam in Holland and Hamburg in Germany.

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Last Updated November 15, 2010