Dr. Debjani Chakrabarti, Associate Professor of Sociology, Bluefield State College

BSC Faculty Member Dr. Debjani Chakrabarti Participates in Prestigious Summer Institute for Israel Studies Fellowship

For Bluefield State College faculty member Dr. Debjani Chakrabarti, the wait was worth the experience. The current Associate Professor of Sociology was chosen to take part in the competitive and prestigious Summer Institute for Israel Studies Summer 2020 Fellowship, under the auspices of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. But the COVID pandemic forced the rescheduling of the Institute for 2021, and so, earlier this summer, she was among a dozen faculty members from universities and colleges across the United States and beyond who took part in the multidimensional experience of Israeli life and society.


“The Israel Studies Fellowship experience exceeded my expectations,” she noted. “We took part in an intensive and immersive program, starting, at Brandeis University and continuing in Israel. I engaged in the curriculum’s content, and in intellectual discussions with the experts who lectured and presented their research, and with the other program participants, expanding and deepening my knowledge about the functioning of Israeli society.”


The Fellowship consisted of two phases. During the first, a two-week residency at Brandeis, participants attended lectures, discussions, conversations and analyses, covering topics of scholarly interests, considering topics that ranged from Israeli history and, politics to, the arts and culture, illuminating the constantly evolving nature of Israeli society.

In the second phase, the other Fellows and I traveled to Israel, accompanied by the Schusterman Center’s director Prof. Jonathan D. Sarna and associate director Dr. Shayna Weiss. We visited Haifa, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Tel Aviv. “Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem,” Dr. Chakrabarti said, “is one of the most important sites for any visitor/scholar to understand the true scale and impact of the Holocaust in the nation-formation and nation-maintenance of Israel.”

Haifa, a cosmopolitan port city in northern Israel, is the country’s third largest city. There the group met with members of the Knesset, Israel’s governing body.

Among a variety of other scholarly activities, the Fellows toured the National Library of Israel, the Supreme Court of Israel and the ANU Museum of the Jewish People, the largest Jewish museum in the world.

Dr. Chakrabarti now plans to share her experiences with BSC students, faculty, staff and community, and she’s hoping for opportunities to talk to students at other high schools and colleges in the region.

“The Summer Institute builds a deep understanding of topics, dismantling stereotypes and myths about the Jewish people and the state of Israel by raising historical and cultural awareness,” she explained. “I will be using my knowledge and experiences gained from the SIIS Fellowship in all of my Sociology and Social Psychology classes at BSC.” She also hopes to develop a study-abroad program that can be cross-listed with Bluefield State’s Bachelor’s degree in International Studies in the future.

“The Fellowship exceeded my expectations,” Chakrabarti summarized. “I look forward to staying connected with the best minds in the world as I pursue my teaching and research in Sociology and in Israel Studies.”

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