Undergraduate Program

Courtesy of the Gross Family Collection

Dear Students,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to Santa Cruz. UC Santa Cruz is a remarkable campus, and we hope you'll avail yourself of the special resources it offers students. We particularly hope you'll take advantage of the resources that the Jewish Studies program offers here at UCSC.

UCSC is one of the very few campuses in California where undergraduates have the opportunity to major in Jewish Studies. Inaugurated in 2010, this new interdisciplinary major makes it possible to achieve an extraordinary depth and breadth of learning about Jewish history and culture. From the social history of ancient Israel to the comparative study of modern Jewish cultures, our courses range across three millennia and five continents, with particular emphasis on the dynamic histories of Jews in the world's great cities. We also offer courses in Hebrew and Yiddish, courses on Jewish intellectual history and Jewish mysticism, a groundbreaking course on South American Jewish history, and a variety of courses on Jewish music, including the music of modern Israel and music in the lands of Islam.   

A second distinctive feature of Jewish Studies at UCSC is the program's emphasis on the participation of undergraduates in a lively series of special events throughout the academic year. Every lecture by a distinguished visiting scholar, and every conference on a particular aspect of Jewish history or culture, is tied to a particular course in the undergraduate curriculum. So there is a genuine community of learning, a partnership between professors and students as they explore the most exciting new trends in the field of Jewish Studies. 

The Program is designed to equip students to pursue their own research projects in the senior year, either in specially designed senior seminars, or with the preparation of senior theses on topics of their own choosing. In recent years Jewish Studies students have produced prize-winning research in fields as diverse as ancient history, art history, philosophy, feminist studies, and creative writing.

You can also contribute to UCSC's venerable magazine Leviathan, the longest-running college newspaper devoted to reporting and commentary on Jewish subjects. Almost as old as the campus itself, the magazine serves as one of the linchpins of Jewish life on a campus that includes a vibrant Hillel and a lively Chabad.

UCSC consistently leads the University of California in the number of students it sends each summer to Israel on Birthright tours, and Santa Cruz Hillel consistently offers three or four fascinating Israel-related programs during each quarter of the academic year, from musical and athletic events to meetings with visiting journalists from Israel.  And altogether Jewish Studies offers no fewer than half a dozen courses on Israel's history, literature, music, theater, and cinema.

With the inauguration of our new major, UCSC's Jewish Studies Program offers more exciting possibilities for Jewish learning and scholarship than ever before in the University's 45-year history. Welcome to the University of California at Santa Cruz, and please do not hesitate to contact us directly if you would like to have more specific information about Jewish Studies at UCSC! 

Nathaniel Deutsch
Undergraduate Director

Bruce Thompson
Academic Advising Coordinator