Established in 1998, American University’s Center for Israel Studies (CIS) was the first university center in the United States dedicated to the academic study of modern Israel. American University was also the first university to offer a Minor in Israel Studies and the first administrative home of the Association for Israel Studies, the international scholarly society devoted to the study of Israel.
In 2023, during the Center's 25th anniversary celebration, the center received a joint, multi-million-dollar commitment from Amy Meltzer and Board of Trustees member Alan Meltzer, CAS/BA ’21, and AU friends Jaime and Andrew Schwartzberg. The gifts will support the center’s groundbreaking work to catalyze the field of Israel Studies and build bridges between nations, religions, and cultures. In recognition of this generous commitment, the center is now named the Meltzer Schwartzberg Center for Israel Studies.
A pioneer in its field, CIS takes a multidisciplinary and pluralistic approach to examine modern Israel’s history, its diverse society and culture, and its complex geopolitical challenges. CIS offers a variety of courses, student trips, faculty-led discussions, and regular public programming featuring Israeli scholars, writers and artists.
Every year we host at least one major conference, bringing to American University leading Israel scholars and practitioners from around the world. Building on American University's expertise in global education and its central location in Washington, DC, CIS seeks to serve as a national and international hub for nurturing and catalyzing Israel Studies in the university and beyond.
CIS prides itself as a non-partisan institution that welcomes perspectives from across the political and cultural spectrum. To that end, its programming aims to reflect Israeli society in its entirety, featuring voices from Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as other ethnic and religious groups.
Located in the US capital, our students have the unique opportunity to intern at the White House, on Capitol Hill, various government agencies, NGOs, embassies, think tanks, and policy institutes. By complementing our courses and lectures with a robust experiential learning component, our students will graduate prepared to serve the global community as emerging leaders, waging peace and building understanding in our world.
The Association for Israel Studies
The Center for Israel Studies was the first administrative headquarters for the Association for Israel Studies — the international professional association of scholars and researchers who study modern-day Israel. The center has hosted two of their international conferences.
Jewish Studies Program at American University
Courses in Jewish Studies enrich the understanding of American and world Jewries and of our pluralistic society.
"Let me congratulate American University on your creation of a Center for Israel Studies. It is a timely and imaginative initiative in exploring Israel's many contributions to human dignity and progress in our country's 50 years of existence. You will help to bring together Israeli and American scholars, writers, artists, and scientists to share their knowledge and face the challenges of the new global era. This is a commendable idea and worthy of the widest support."
—Shimon Peres, former prime minister and president of Israel, giving a speech at AU's commencement after receiving an honorary doctorate.
Shimon Peres Inaugurates the Center for Israel Studies at American University, the first of its kind in the United States.