Jehuda Reinharz, president of Brandeis University, Massachusetts, since 1994 and a scholar of Jewish studies, has written more than 100 articles and 23 books in various languages. The 65-year-old scholar will speak at St Xavier’s College on Wednesday at 6.30 pm on ‘Partnerships for Knowledge and Social Justice: Higher Education in the Global Age’. HT spoke to him:
What kind of partnerships are you looking to build with India?
We have had long ties with India, since the 1950s. We have had students coming to Brandeis and we are looking to expand our relationship by having faculty and student exchange programmes between Indian institutions and Brandeis. Perhaps after studying for two years in an Indian college, students could then transfer to Brandeis for the next two years. It could be a hybrid kind of degree.
How is it that despite its reputation Indians don’t know much about Brandeis?
Indians know and talk mostly about the Ivy League schools. There are 4217 colleges and universities in the US. People know about the Ivy Leagues because they are 200-300 years old. We are relatively young and were created in1948. We get many Indians because of word of mouth. Our student: faculty ration is 9:1 and our average class size is 17. That’s the way we like it. We also have the fully paid Wien Scholarships for exceptional international students.
As a scholar, what would you say about the situation in Palestine and prospects for peace in the Middle East?
We need to provide employment and education to everyone in the Middle East. We need more democratic regimes. All the countries have dictatorships of some sort except Israel – we have to change that.
The Palestinian problem can be solved shortly. But it requires strong leaders and cooperation of countries When people do not have a job or home they become radicalised.