California State University Chancellor Signs Off on New Collaborative Major in Modern Jewish Studies

August 30, 2002

Chancellor Charles Reed signed off on a modern Jewish studies major two weeks ago that has been seven years in the making. The new B.A. will be offered collaboratively by California State University, Chico, San Diego State University and San Francisco State University.

Sam Edelman of CSU, Chico, Lawrence Baron of San Diego State, and Laurie Zolloth of San Francisco State discussed the major when they met at a conference in 1996. Each of their universities offered a core of classes in Jewish studies, but none had enough to comprise a major.

The CSU is one of the largest state university systems in the world and educates a majority of students in California. “We believe students should have the option of learning about one of the oldest religions and cultures in the world. The history, culture, literature and politics of Judaism have had and continue to have significant impact on the world,” said Edelman, director of the program at Chico.

Modern Jewish studies majors will take many of their classes at their home university and fill in requirements with online classes from the other two. The program will begin officially in fall of 2003, although there are students at each university already beginning course work for the major.

Although this will be the first modern Jewish studies major in the CSU system, there are several programs in the University of California system, including a 30-year old program at UC Berkeley. UCLA, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego have Ph.D. programs in Jewish studies. UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine offer a master’s. Stanford University offers a Ph.D. In neighboring states, the University of Oregon offers a master’s degree and the University of Washington both an undergraduate and Ph.D. program.

The trio of developers received a multi-year grant from the Chancellor’s office to develop curriculum. The Chancellor’s office also provided funds for innovative program development. A San Francisco foundation, the Koret Foundation and the San Francisco Jewish Endowment have also provided funds. One of Edelman’s tasks as director at CSU, Chico will be to continue fundraising efforts to get the new program off the ground and to pay salaries of professors that must be borrowed from other disciplines.


Kathleen McPartland


Sam Edelman