TAU Social Impact: Alumni for the community
Tel Aviv University is revolutionizing social responsibility education in Israel with recently Introduced “TAU Social Impact” – Accredited Courses for Civic Action.
Action Now: With over 30 percent of citizens living in poverty, widespread educational gaps and insufficient access to quality social services, among other problems, Israeli society faces considerable hurdles. Action must be taken if we are to ensure a more just and equitable society for current and future generations.
Track Record: Having recognized this need early on, the Unit for Social Involvement at Tel Aviv University’s Ruth and Alan Ziegler Student Services Division has run dozens of programs through the years that build up students’ social leadership and entrepreneurship skills.
Leap Forward: Now, with this solid foundation in place, Tel Aviv University aspires toward greater impact. In a move that is the first of its kind in Israel, and possibly in the world, the University is launching a program to include social involvement as part of a required and accredited course in the undergraduate curriculum of all faculties. Beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, the University will launch 35 courses that integrate theory and practice in civic engagement (Click here for details of the courses – In Hebrew).
Students will gain community-oriented knowledge and skills through lectures given by academic experts and hands-on training by NGO professionals. Then, according to the topic of the course, students will implement their know-how in the field.
Personalization: Students will be allowed to choose from a broad range of specially-developed courses. Topics will address the major challenges facing Israeli society today, among them: education, health, inequality and social exclusion, human rights and racism, violence, the environment, women’s rights, and citizenship.
Funding Need: Tel Aviv University envisions rolling out up to 40 courses per year over the next 5 years to achieve a steady state of 200 courses total. The target is to get all of the University’s 15,000 undergraduate students actively engaged in social involvement before they graduate.
Outcomes: This new initiative will have far-reaching impact. First, because of Israel’s small size, the thousands of TAU graduates who gain social awareness and leadership experience will form a critical mass of knowledgeable, capable and influential change-makers in society. Second, the Tel Aviv University model of accredited social responsibility courses will most likely be replicated among many of Israel’s 69 other universities and colleges; this would significantly enlarge the pool of educated young people with a strong social commitment. Finally, this revolutionary program will significantly enhance learning, research and academia’s long-term contribution to society.