One of the main issues when one is deciding to embark in the adventure that is graduate school has to do with the funding, and rightly so. Education is an investment, not an expense, nevertheless it is unavoidable to put the money into the equation, and for this reason the M.A. in Political Science in Action at Tel Aviv University is happy to share with our prospective students and candidates some of the alternatives you might have to apply for a loan or a scholarship. Indeed, a great proportion of our current students have received some kind of financial support to come here to Israel and enjoy what is not only a high quality academic program, but a personal life changing experience.
First of all, you should know that the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a fantastic program to provide financial aid to international students. And guess what… Yes! We are glad to tell you that as a candidate for the M.A. in Political Science in Action at Tel Aviv University you may qualify to receive that scholarship. The program is part of the Cultural Agreements that Israel has with several countries around the world, and we encourage you to consider this option if you are a citizen of one of the following countries:
Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada (Province of Quebec), China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, The Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Republic of Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.
To learn more about the requirements, conditions and all the details regarding the scholarship offered by the Government of Israel, please visit: http://bit.ly/hKOfBB, and contact the Embassy of Israel in your country. You can go to the following site to locate the embassy or consulate in your area: http://bit.ly/ITN5pz .
You also may want to visit the Tel Aviv University School for Overseas Students website, where you can find a list with some other sources of financial aid and scholarships. Please, note that different institutions and agencies have their own requirements and criteria, so take your time to peruse and learn if you are eligible: http://bit.ly/K0tEvt .
Secondly, there is also the possibility to apply for a loan to pay for your studies. The School for Overseas Students has also compiled a list with some of the available options: http://bit.ly/KpvF6S. Again, we suggest to read carefully to learn all you need to know about the terms and conditions for eligibility.
Last but not less, you must know that our program has a Deferred Payment Plan interest-free option, so you can pay your tuition in four parts along the academic year. To learn more about this plan and the many ways in which you can cover your academic expenses please visit “Payment Options”: http://bit.ly/JfRKjX .
Remember that these are only some of the alternatives at your disposal, and the sites provided here are a good place to start. Yet, we also encourage you to browse the web and make a little research of your own. Chances are that private and governmental agencies in your country of provenance also offer scholarship and financial aid opportunities. In any case, you are very welcome to contact us and we will be happy to assist you with more information.
Why would a non-Jewish Mexican guy who is interested in politics ever wanted to cross half the globe to get a master’s degree in Israel? Tel Aviv University (TAU) is a first-class world-renowned institution, that is a given. But still, for someone with my background, let alone my provenance, traditional wisdom would suggest going to The United States or Europe. What then led my way to Tel Aviv, and why is the program in Leadership, Communications and Elections a strong option for any international student who wants to be playing in the big leagues? In a few words: academic excellence, a practical approach on politics, and networking -not that having the Mediterranean beaches 15 minutes from campus and living in one of the hottest cities in the world is not important!
Perhaps my own experience in the program would help illustrate these points. Academically, I am an internationalist. Professionally, prior to come to Israel I spend three years in the staff of Carlos Salinas, former President of Mexico, dealing with matters of research, analysis and communication strategies. Given such previous experience and interests, the program at TAU immediately called my attention for its practical approach to political science. Indeed, at the classroom I been having the opportunity to share my own practical experiences on the field. Conversely, what I am learning is not only theoretically rigorous but also relevant in its real-world application. It is this mixture of scholarly quality and a practical drive that makes the program unique in shaping both, the theoretical and practical skills needed if one’s actions are going to have real impact, either making research or creating and implementing policy. An aspect of the program in which you can really taste its practical approach is the Ambassador’s Forum, a weekly meeting with diplomats from different countries and fields of activity at which we engage in discussions on both, the junctures of current events as well as the structural tendencies of world politics. Another attractive feature I found has to do with the multidisciplinary orientation. Along a core set of requirements as its cynosure, the program offers diverse elective courses in order to specialize according to personal career plans. Even more, we enjoy the possibility to take courses from other graduate programs, meaning that it is possible to strengthen and fine-tune particular areas of interest, from financial management at an MBA course, to a whole catalogue of classes at the environmental or conflict resolution programs, just to mention a couple of examples.
In cahoots with the practical and multidisciplinary approach goes the networking. Here I share three examples from my personal experience. First, thanks to the program I could apply for an internship position at a think thank based in Jerusalem which was looking ex professo for the quality in research and analysis that TAU students provide. This institution, among other things, develop policy papers on critical issues that land in the desk of key policy makers in the Knesset and in the executive branch. Second, during a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized as part of the program, I had the possibility to meet and get acquainted with some of the top experts responsible with designing and implementing the israeli strategies in communication and public diplomacy. Third, I also found that there is in Mexico, as in many other countries, an organized network of TAU alumni working in a wide range of fields of activity, in both the private and public sectors. Opportunities like these not only look good on the résumé, but are above all an invaluable way to enrich an already stimulating and sound academic experience.
Incidentally, I cannot emphasize enough how much living in israel has broaden my personal and cultural horizons. It is not only the zest of wakening up every morning in the magnificent and beautiful Mediterranean coast. I have had the opportunity to travel, making friends from the five continents, start learning Hebrew, enjoying an ample cultural offering, discovering new literature, going to the Israeli Opera one day, to the new hot-spot in town the other, or simply take the fields of the White City. In Tel Aviv one can always avoid perfunctory routines, even in a demanding graduate program, almost in a nonchalant fashion: when I have had enough of studying at the library, I just grab my bike and go do my readings at HaYarkon Park, next to the river; sometimes I even have leeway to drive to Rothschild Boulevard where I can read for my next class and have a coffee while enjoying the bonny atmosphere of the surrounding Bauhaus architecture.
Finally, I also was lucky enough to receive the generous support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel which granted me a scholarship. You should visit the Embassy of Israel in your own country asking for information, since there are many opportunities of this kind sponsored by the Government and other agencies. Last, but not least, you can always visit the program’s website, and above all, get in contact with Lilach Akerman, our program’s administrator who, I can tell by personal experience, will make your live much easier, answering all your questions and pointing you in the right direction with patient and kindness.
Whether I decide to continue an academic journey in any other top institution in the world, or going back to my country and get involved in politics and public service (or even if I change my plans and make a démarche towards private practice) the theoretical framework, practical skills and networking I have been acquiring at TAU, and in particular in the Leadership, Communications and Elections program, constitute an invaluable set of critical abilities to tackle the analytical as well as operative challenges found in the very competitive academic and professional environments to which, I am sure, you as well as me want to be part of.
Broadcast journalism continues to be an important news source in the Poli LCE world, even with the rise of the internet and related social media platforms as communication outlets. On Tuesday, Poli LCE visited two TV studios and had the opportunity to compare some of the ways that the news in Israel is produced. First, we toured the studios of Channel 1 news, which is produced by the Israel Broadcasting Authority (also known as the IBA) and is funded by the public. In the afternoon, we toured a privately-funded studio of Channel 2 news.
Our guide at the IBA was the illustrious David Witzthum, whom you may recognize as host, most recently, of the nightly news program MeHayom LeMahar (“From Today To Tomorrow”) and whom Israelis have been watching report the news for many years.
David explains the behind-the-scenes workings of the studio.
Now he’s showing us where the moderator of a news broadcast sits, while explaining how a moderator delivers the news. And yes, news is actually filmed and broadcast from this room.
It turns out, David explained, that Channel 1 is in the midst of what he called a “historic” upgrade. Channel 1 recently identified the upcoming Olympic Games in London as an occasion to switch over to a high-definition system, and we saw construction everywhere we turned in the studio. The IBA funds its public television programming by charging licensing fees for TVs and car radios, so Channel 1’s budget is modest. The contrast here, between what Channel 1 can and cannot do, made a strong impression. On the one hand, the IBA lags in its technological capabilities. On the other hand, since Channel 1 is not funded by advertisers and is not directly funded by the state, either – David was emphatic that Channel 1 is most comparable to the BBC and is a “publicly-funded” rather than a “state-funded” outlet – Channel 1 has a broad license to air what it wants. Actually, it was at Channel 2 that our guide praised this most highly: as he explained, the IBA notably aired a documentary that portrayed an influential Israeli family in a less-than-favorable light, even as private networks balked at that proposition.
Aramis, Cara and Beate try out the host’s seat in another Channel 1 studio room!
When we visited Channel 2, we met with a producer, who explained that “Channel 2” as an entity is jointly owned by two broadcasting companies, Reshet and Keshet. We saw the different parts of the studio, and also met with the internet team that produces Channel 2’s internet and social media content. With all of our classroom discussion of the role of the media, it was great to see two different TV studios in person and ask questions of key figures who work at each one.
We could be the Poli LCE news team!
On Tuesday, I sat down for a conversation with Dr. Tamar Meisels, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy. In addition to teaching in Hebrew, Dr. Meisels is on the faculties of Political Science in Action: Leadership, Communications and Elections and of Security and Diplomacy. In the spring semester, Dr. Meisels will teach the Poli LCE course Theories of Political Leadership, and during the current semester, I have enjoyed attending another very popular course that she teaches, Terror and Moral Dilemmas. Dr. Meisels received her doctorate in Political Theory from Oxford University.
Q: Thank you so much for meeting with me. Your research topics include nationalism, territorial rights and terrorism. On what are you currently focused?
A: At the moment I’m focusing on just war theory, considering theoretical aspects of war rather than looking at aspects of war, like terrorism, in a narrow sense. Some of the questions I’m asking are broad, concerning such issues as the theory behind civilian immunity, and some are more directly related to the theoretical aspects of particular tactics, especially as they concern Israel.
Q: Having taught in both the Hebrew-language and the International master’s programs at Tel Aviv University, could you share some of your observations on the International master’s opportunities here?
A: I enjoy teaching the English-language programs very much, and the students fare very well. I have noticed that it takes some time at first for international students to adjust to the Israeli mentality inside the classroom. Israeli students tend to argue more in class, and it is my aspiration to bring out a little more of that argumentative nature in our classroom debates and discussions.
At the master’s level, furthermore, students need someone to help them conduct their own research. Accordingly, I want the students to look at the timely issues that we discuss in the course and to think for themselves.
Q: In addition to the style of classroom debate that you noted, are there other factors that set apart the study of government and policy in Israel?
A: One that comes to mind is that these issues are more urgent here than they are in other parts of the world. That being said, I was a visiting professor at Georgetown University, and people in other countries have equally strong opinions and are also passionate about these topics.
Overall, the international master’s programs in political science at Tel Aviv University are good for all the right reasons. They bring together great students and great academics.
This has been an eventful week for insights into leadership, communication and elections in practice. I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights that I found most notable, both within and outside of the Poli LCE program:
In the Poli LCE Program
This week, Poli LCE welcomed two representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Tel Aviv University as part of our Ambassador Forum series. Mr. Raoul Bittel, Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel and the Occupied Territories and Mr. Marco Succi, Communication Coordinator of the ICRC in Israel and the Occupied Territories joined us for a conversation about the ICRC in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as some farther-flung locations, and also shared some of their own anecdotes. The specific content of the forum was off the record, but I would like to point out that hearing from a communications specialist illuminated an exciting career path for Poli LCE graduates.
Poli LCE students receive credit for attending these meetings, which are one component of the elective course, “Sites of Conflict and Diplomatic Horizons.” You can find an outline of the course’s scheduled meetings here.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency ran a story yesterday that has received some blog attention but has not gone as widely reported in traditional news media outlets. Allegedly, Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted that he perceived Israel’s “two main enemies” to be… Haaretz and The New York Times.
According to the JTA, Jerusalem Post Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde told an audience in Tel Aviv at the Women’s International Zionist Organization conference that Netanyahu had made this statement in a private meeting. Relaying his surprise over Netanyahu’s assessment, Linde is quoted telling the audience, “I thought [Netanyahu] was going to talk about, you know, Iran, maybe Hamas.”
The sheer fact that the JTA can credibly report this is a testament to the role of communications outlets in shaping both domestic and international politics. Note, furthermore, the association of a media channel in New York with a significant threat potential, when the U.S. itself is Israel’s ally.
(As an update: the financial newspaper Globes reported today that Netanyahu’s office has denied that the Prime Minister made the statement attributed to him by Linde. It will be worth observing if, and how, this story develops further.)
In International News
You are probably aware by now, either from news reports or from stymied attempts to look up a fact on Wikipedia.org, that Wikipedia and a range of other websites staged a “blackout” yesterday to protest against and raise awareness of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Protect I.P. Act (PIPA) in the Senate. I did not want to comment on the blackout in a social media space, like our blog or Twitter or Facebook page, while it was occurring, so as not to unintentionally convey an endorsement either for or against the proposed legislation. Today, however, presents an opportunity to view the event in a more analytical way, and underscore some of its relevance in the Poli LCE realm.
There is a line in an article in the Technology section of yesterday’s New York Times that encapsulates nicely the interrelations between new media, leadership, citizens and elected representation.
“First, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising Republican star, took to Facebook, one of the vehicles for promoting opposition, to renounce a bill he had co-sponsored.”
There are at least two big takeaways here. The first is that, in response to the public’s vocal opposition, Senator Rubio did not merely feel a need to articulate a position he already held, but rather, he felt compelled actually to reverse his stance. The second, as the Times notes, is that Rubio opted to utilize one of the same channels to communicate his response as his constituents did to voice their opinion – Facebook. This is further legitimization of social media as an official platform for communication by an elected representative in a context other than an election campaign, and it is also a reflection of a reality in which Senator Rubio connected with constituents on their own terms, meeting them in their virtual meeting space.
If you’ve been following us on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen that this past Monday, Poli LCE engaged in a site visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem followed by a tour of the Old City.
During our trip to the Ministry, we participated in a series of presentations and question-and-answer sessions on modern diplomacy, the Arab Spring and political communication strategies, respectively.
In the second discussion, Ms. Eynat Shlein-Michael, Head of the International Affairs Bureau in the MFA Policy Research Center, characterized this past year’s events in the region not as a “Spring,” but rather as the “Arab Storm” or the “Middle East Turmoil.”
Given that this turmoil has taken place in countries in such close proximity to Israel, it goes without saying that Israel will feel some of the ramifications. However, Ms. Shlein-Michael pointed out, Israel did not precipitate the conflicts that gave rise to the Arab Spring, and more importantly, has not been ascribed responsibility for them by other states, and the effect that Israel can have on how events continue to unfold is limited.
“For once,” she stated, “it’s not about us.”
While there are benefits to not being perceived as an instigator, this state of affairs has had the interesting effect of leaving some Israelis feeling disconcerted.
Ms. Shlein-Michael identified Islamists as the “biggest winners” in this Middle East turmoil, citing their clear message and the infrastructure they had cultivated for brand or “face” recognition as key components of their success. Meanwhile, she called liberals in each Arab Spring country the “biggest losers,” who, lacking unity and organization, a common message and face recognition by the broader population, were marginalized and pushed aside. Women and minorities, too, she noted, had fared poorly.
For the Ministry’s presentations and the tour that followed, Poli LCE was joined by another MA program in the Tel Aviv University political science department, Security and Diplomacy, and students in both programs raised questions regarding the relative stability of the current regimes in such places as Lebanon, the West Bank and Bahrain.
From a Leadership, Communication and Elections perspective, the day was full of relevant conversations. The following session was a closed discussion, so all I can really tell you is that it concerned strategies for successful political communication. You’ll have to be a part of the program if you want to learn what that’s all about!
Our tour of the Old City took us through classic sites of geopolitical and religious conflict and cooperation. The juxtaposition of the morning’s contemporary lessons with the afternoon’s historic window into some of the same subjects was striking.
Poli LCE and Security and Diplomacy students pause for a picture at the Roman Cardo in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Poli LCE students at the Ministry! Practicing for their turns at the podium?
After last week’s winter holiday, classes at Political Science in Action: Leadership, Communication and Elections are back “in action” (I’ll keep the puns to a minimum, I promise). With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to zoom in on the Poli LCE program at the level of classes.
In my last post, I discussed leadership, communication and elections at a fairly general level. Now I would like to look more closely at what we have been discussing over the past few weeks in one of the Poli LCE courses I’m taking. In this post, I will look at one that has recently been focused on democratic philosophy and theory.
“Leaders and Citizens: Balancing Expectation in Democracies” is a core Poli LCE course taught by Program Head Dr. Amal Jamal. Broadly, it concerns such topics as the political philosophy of democratic thinkers, the meaning of citizenship and the political status of citizens in democracy, and various models of democracy along with their implications for the balancing of leadership with citizens’ expectations. In our class on December 13, Dr. Jamal led a discussion on the political philosophies of Rousseau and Hegel in the context of addressing republican democracy. In particular, we focused on their outlooks as they related to “politics of the good,” or politics predicated on a relatively collectivist worldview. This can be contrasted with “politics of rights,” which derive from a more individualistic perspective.
For example, Hegel’s main dilemma can be found in the question: “What kind of ethics should run our life as a community?” Our discussion of Hegel’s dilemma resolved itself in the notion that the state is the realization of the ethical ideal; it is the synthesis of the ethical system of the family (i.e. “particular altruism,” or an altruism that is limited and only directed towards members of the family) and the ethical system at the level of civil society (i.e. “universal egoism,” an ethics-of-the-market in which people across the board value defending themselves against the interests of other people who are out to gain as much for their own selves at as little cost as they can).
And there’s a quick dose of political philosophy for the day!
In the following two weeks, we identified a rift between political economy and cultural studies and asked how such a rift related to the topic of liberal democracies. Dr. Jamal outlined the ways that democracy addresses issues of equality and identity, and the ways that democracy has fallen short of addressing some of the challenges related to equality and identity.
The philosophical and theoretical questions at issue in these classes all relate to the fundamental nature of democracy and the state, and the roles of leaders and citizens. In future posts, I’ll profile courses that are less theoretical, on a range of subjects, to give a sense of the different angles from which Poli LCE approaches Political Science in Action and of the topics that students study.
Hello everyone! In this first-ever blog post for Political Science in Action: Leadership, Communication and Elections (aka Poli LCE), I want to talk about a topic that has been on my mind since a conversation that I had with Professor Michal Shamir, one of the program’s directors.
During our conversation, we discussed the fields of “leadership,” “communication” and “elections.” What are they, and how do they fit together in one masters program?
In the context of political science, “leadership” frequently refers, as one might suspect, to political leadership. In democracies, we’re more specifically talking about democratically-elected leadership. Who governs, and how? In this masters program, these questions remain important, and the program also addresses the ways in which the applicability of the title of “leader” in political science has broadened widely. In various ways, the non-elected citizens of a state are now able to be leaders in their own right or to exert a greater degree of influence than ever before on elected leaders.
Today’s communication channels have fueled this development. When we speak of “communication,” the first fields that come to mind are traditional and social media. In the era of global communication, who disseminates information, and how? We can consider how the contributions of print journalists, photographers, TV news broadcast anchors and talk show pundits can influence politics. We can likewise investigate the efforts and effects of individuals and organizations who use platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube, as well as Weibo and Orkut to publish their opinions. Beyond that, we can also look at political communication in other forms, such as military propaganda or direct diplomacy.
The category of “elections” introduces democratic institutions to this conversation. Furthermore, as a major way (at least in some countries) that citizens can comment on and influence their political leaders, elections comprise a topic that goes hand-in-hand with a broader investigation of the relationship between citizens and leaders in society.
To see this “in action,” let’s look at a familiar and recent example of how the overlap between these fields plays out: TIME Magazine’s 2011 “Person of the Year.” The connections here between leadership, communication and elections exist on a number of levels. To start, we have a communication/ media outlet, TIME Magazine, issuing a statement regarding whom the magazine as an entity considers to be influential. We can, furthermore, ask which individuals or group made this decision on behalf of the magazine. According to TIME, the “Person of the Year” is chosen by the magazine’s editors. However, in a nod to reader/viewer/audience participation, TIME also held an online vote, providing an avenue for anyone with internet access to voice their opinions on the candidates for “Person of the Year.” Note, too, that TIME structured this conversation in the form of a vote, which calls to mind an election of sorts for the position of “Person of the Year.”
Beyond the institution of naming a “Person of the Year,” we can then look at the 2011 recipient. Recent winners have included Mark Zuckerberg, Ben Bernanke, and Barack Obama, all individuals, and all, notably, leaders in media or government. This year was something of a departure, with TIME recognizing “The Protestor” as a collective “Person of the Year.” At once, then, we have a media entity recognizing groups of citizens from around the world as collectively being, in some sense, the most influential leader of the year. Furthermore, the protestors of 2011 have commanded such widespread attention in part based on a persistent hope that out of these various popular movements will come elections where they had long since been nonexistent, or societies that hew more closely to other tenets of democracy.
The list of ways in which this yearly media event connects leadership, communication, and elections could go on, but I will pause it here. I’m looking forward to picking up conversations like this one in the posts to follow, and I hope that you will stay with me on this journey through the world of leadership, communication and elections.