Public Health, Diversity, and Social Dynamics in Israel

  • People lounging at Dead Sea

About This Program

Fall Quarter 2016

  • Application deadline: February 10
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: February 10
  • Program dates: September 15– December 9, 2017 (tentative)

Spring Quarter 2016: $19,908

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $16,208, includes: 

Estimated additional costs: $3,700, includes:

  • $1,500 round trip airfare to Tel Aviv, Israel (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $200 for books and supplies
  • $2,000 for discretionary expenses, including meals, transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


Featuring new content and rescheduled to Fall Quarter, the revamped Public Health, Diversity and Social Dynamics in Israel program will focus on how Israel's diverse ethnic makeup has shaped social systems, with particular emphasis on health and civil society. Through visits to historical and archaeological sites, medical facilities, and non-governmental organizations, students will confront and discuss ways in which the country's rich history influences contemporary issues. Students will be exposed to the current realities of various populations in Israel, including immigrants, ethnic and religious minorities,and asylum seekers, as well as local efforts to confront socioeconomic and health disparities, provide broad access to Israels universal healthcare system, promote gender equality, and further social and economic development. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about the delivery of medical and humanitarian relief, activities for which Israel is internationally recognized.

Courses will be taught in English by faculty from Northwestern and Tel Aviv University and incorporate site visits in and around Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Masada to the South, and areas of historic and cultural importance in the North.

Host Institution

Tel Aviv University (TAU) is Israel's largest comprehensive university, with excellent programs in the natural and physical sciences, engineering, and math, as well as in the social sciences, arts, music, and humanities. Faculty in the School of Public Health at the Sackler School of Medicine and the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, are involved in the program. The Dayan Center is the leading think-tank and research center on Middle Eastern history and politics, with the largest archive on the Arab world in Israel. 

Housing & Meals

Students live in the Einstein Dormitory complex at TAU, which contains suites with one or two shared bedrooms as well as a kitchen, bedroom, air conditioning, WiFi, and cable TV. Students will share a bedroom, likely with another international student at TAU. Students are responsible for the cost of all meals. 

Safety and Security Note

This program is located in a country under a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and operates with special permission under the University's travel policy. Students enrolled in this program will be required to adhere to additional security measures and sign a release acknowledging the Travel Warning. The program is subject to suspension or modification at any time. These matters will be discussed in more detail during advising appointments and pre-departure orientation. 


This is a Northwestern program with a set curriculum, so students must enroll in the Northwestern courses listed below. All courses and grades appear on students' Northwestern transcript and are figured into their Northwestern GPA.

HISTORY 301-SA-1: Diversity and Ethnicity in Contemporary Israeli Society

  • Course Instructor: Elie Rekhess

This course explores the paradoxes, complexities, and diversity of contemporary Israeli society. Students will learn about the history of immigration to Israel and how this has influenced the countrydemographic and social structure, culture, and politics today. Particular emphasis will be given toethnic minorities in Israel, including Palestinian citizens, Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, and issues of gender and sexuality. The course will also use case studies to highlight the collaborative efforts between Israel, Palestinian territories, and Jordan to promote coexistence and transboundary projects. Possible themes explored in these case studies include: water, peace and conflict resolution, inter-religious dialogue, education, and culture.

POLI SCI 357-SA:  Political Economy of Israel: Economic Development and Social Justice

  • Course Instructor: Paul Rivlin

This course will examine the impact of globalization on economic and social policy and implications for government spending, public health and other social programs, and income inequality. Students will learn about the role of demographic and political factors, as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict, in determining the pattern of economic development. Students will then explore the impact of economicpolicies on socioeconomic issues, such as income distribution, poverty, and welfare, particularly among ultra-orthodox Jewish communities and Palestinian citizens in Israel. The course will also examine the development and impact of kibbutz movements, healthcare financing, the labor movement, and entrepreneurship, specifically within Israels burgeoning high tech sector.

GBL HLTH 317-SA: Public Health in Israel 

  • Course Instructor: Gabriel Chodick

This course is an introduction to the public and community health system of Israel. The course will cover the evolution of public and general health services since the early days of the nation, the influence of the Universal Health Insurance Act of 1994, and the examination of critical health issues confronting Israel, particularly chronic and infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, and maternal and childhealth. Students will also learn about healthcare programs and services directed toward immigrant, minority, and vulnerable populations. Lectures will be complemented by site visits to health facilities and agencies, such as the Israeli Center for Disease Control, Tel Aviv Health District, and mother andchild clinics in B'nei Brak.

GBL HLTH 318-SA: Managing Medical and Humanitarian Relief

  • Course Instructors: Kobi Peleg

This course will expose students to medical preparedness, response and recovery in the case of disasters and other emergencies. Students will investigate methods for preparing medical personnel to handle disaster situations, including training, drills, exercises, simulation games and protocols, as well as perform event analyses on past incidents worldwide. They will be exposed to the different players in the field of medical humanitarian relief and how they interact, reflecting on and analyzing operational strategies for coordination. Students will also evaluate the medical and ethical implications of responding to trauma in emergency situations.


Tour of the South

Students will take an overnight trip to visit the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth, to study its medicinal properties and role in medical tourism. Students will also climb to the top of Masada, a natural fortress with great historical and architectural significance, and visit caves in Qumran National Park, where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Tour of the North

Students will explore various sites in the regions north of Tel Aviv, which are known for their scenic beauty, rich history, cultural diversity, and religious significance. Visits may include Haifa, Tiberias, Safed, Dallyat al-Karmel, and Acre, among others. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Druze and Palestinian Christian communities to learn more about their history in the region and their heritage.