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Ben-Gurion University
CHE BGU Dept report released: Lack of political science courses, poor research performance & political activism. BGU replies

Editorial Note
The full report of the CHE on the Department of Politics and Government at BGU was released today and confirms previous IAM postings based on the leaked copy. The report lists the lack of political science courses in the core offerings of the Department, poor research performance of the department and the political activism of many of its members as major problems. 
BGU university response to the report is disingenuous: it claims that the Department, created in 1998, was planned to differ from traditional political science departments by offering a multidisciplinary perspective.  This is certainly a laudable goal and well-suited for providing students with an integrated view of the political reality. Multidisciplinary programs exist in many universities and are generally appreciated by both faculty and students alike.
  Unfortunately, the Department failed to execute this policy;  as the roster of tenured and tenured- track faculty indicates, a majority of them specialize in various aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict with an emphasis on what is seen as the subjugation and mistreatment of the Palestinian and Arab- Israeli population, colonialism, etc.  This peculiar reading of a multidiciplianry approach stems from the political activism of neo-Marxist faculty.  Indeed, the Department's hiring and promotion record bears the classic signs of ideologically-based co-optation rather than concern for a well balanced multidisciplinary curriculum.  So much so that many of the adjunct faculty complement the tenured staff, making for a fairy homogenous ideological milieu.  As the IAM pointed out, one of the recent hires is a self-described anarchist whose academic credentials are limited to a how- to- do anarchist manual published by a radical press.  
Professor David Newman, the long-time head of the Department and now Dean of the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences, should account for these practices.  In both of these position he has been well aware of the radical, neo-Marxist, critical scholarship bend of some members of the Department; on at least one occasion he evoked the principles of academic freedom to defend their rights. The CHE report is a timely remainder that students in Israeli universities (supported by tax- payers)  should have the academic right to a fair and balanced education. 


Committee for the Evaluation of Political Science and International Relations 


Ben Gurion University 
Department of Politics and Government
Evaluation Report
September 20112
Chapter 1: General Background 3
Chapter 2: Committee Procedures 4
Chapter 3: Evaluation of the Department of Politics & Government, Ben Gurion University 5
Chapter 4: Recommendations 13
Minority Opinion by Prof. Galia Golan 17
Appendix 1:  The Committee's letter of appointment
Appendix 2:  Schedule of the site visit3
Chapter 1: General Background
During its meeting on October 7, 2008, the Council for Higher Education (hereafter: CHE) 
decided to evaluate departments in the fields of Political Science and International Relations.
Following the decision of the CHE, the Minister of Education who serves ex officio as a 
Chairperson of the CHE, appointed a committee consisting of:
• Prof. Thomas Risse, Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science, Freie Universität 
Berlin, Germany– Committee Chair
• Prof. Gabriel Ben Dor, School of Political Sciences, University of Haifa, Israel
• Prof. Benjamin Jerry Cohen, Department of Political Science, University of 
California, Santa Barbara, USA
• Prof. Abraham Diskin, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of 
Jerusalem, Israel and Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy, 
Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel
• Prof. Galia Golan, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, 
Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel
• Prof. Ellen Immergut, School of Social Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin, 
• Prof. Robert Lieber, Department of Government, Georgetown University, USA
• Ms. Marissa Gross, Coordinator of the Committee on behalf of the CHE.
Within the framework of its activity, the committee was requested to: 
*Examine the self-evaluation reports, which were submitted by institutions that provide study 
programs in Political Science and International Relations.
*Present the CHE with final reports for the evaluated academic units and study programs  – a 
separate report for each institution, including the committee’s findings and recommendations.
*Submit to the CHE a general report regarding its opinion as to the examined field within the 
Israeli system of higher education with recommended standards.  
The Committee's letter of appointment is attached as Appendix 1.
Prof. Gabriel Ben Dor did not participate in the evaluation of the University of Haifa.
Prof. Abraham Diskin did not participate in the evaluation of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Prof. Galia Golan did not participate in the evaluation of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. 
Prof. Golan did not sign this report on Ben Gurion University and wrote a minority opinion (see p. 17).
Prof. Ellen Immergut did not participate in the visits of Open University, Ben Gurion University, 
and Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Prof. Robert Lieber did not participate in the first round of visits. 4
The first stage of the quality assessment process consisted of self-evaluation, including the 
preparation of a self-evaluation report by the institutions under evaluation. This process was 
conducted in accordance with the CHE’s guidelines as specified in the document entitled “The 
Self-Evaluation Process: Recommendations and Guidelines” (October 2008).

Chapter 2: Committee Procedures

The Committee held its first formal meetings on February 15, 2011. At this meeting committee 
members were given an overview of higher education in Israel and a description of the Israeli 
CHE. They also discussed Political Science and International Relations programs in Israel and 
fundamental issues concerning the committee's quality assessment activity. Committee members 
had received copies of the departmental reports before this date.
During February 2011 committee members conducted full-day visits to three institutions whose 
programs the committee was requested to examine: Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo, Bar 
Ilan University and Tel Aviv University. In May 2011, committee members visited the University
of Haifa, Open University, Ben Gurion University and the Interdisciplinary Center.  
This report deals with the Department of Politics and Government at the Faculty of Humanities 
and Social Studies at Ben Gurion University. The Department of Politics and Government was 
founded in 1998 and originally offered only BA degrees. In 2009, the department opened a 
Master's program and a year later a one year-international MA program. During the 2009-2010 
school year, 407 BA students, 21 Master's students, and 5 doctoral students were enrolled in the 
Department. The department is comprised of 10 faculty members. 
The Committee's visit to Ben Gurion University took place on May 18-19, 2011.
The committee spent two days of intensive meetings. It also had an opportunity to see the 
libraries and other facilities, and meet with appropriate administrators, tenure and tenure-track 
faculty, adjunct faculty, and BA, MA and PhD students. We thank the appropriate individuals for 
their involvement in our proceedings. Their input allowed us to explore many of the issues raised 
in the self-study report.
The schedule of the visit, including the list of participants representing the institution, is attached 
as Appendix 2. 5
Chapter 3: Evaluation of the Department of Politics and Government, Ben Gurion 
* This Report relates to the situation current at the time of the visit to the institution, and does 
not take account of any subsequent changes. The Report records the conclusions reached by the 
Evaluation Committee based on the documentation provided by the institution, information 
gained through interviews, discussion and observation as well as other information available to 
the Committee.
3.1 Mission, Goals and Aims
Ben Gurion University of the Negev was created in the years 1969-1973.  Its mission and 
purpose, reflecting the location in Beer-Sheva  and in an underserved region, is officially 
described in terms of four objectives: first, to assist in the development and advancement of the 
State of Israel and the Negev;  second, to develop and advance education, teaching and research 
in all fields of human knowledge; third, to help crystallize the spiritual and cultural values of 
Israel and assist in developing the society and economy; and fourth, to help in spiritual and 
cultural absorption of Jewish immigrants and to develop academic programs for Jews outside of 
Israel.  Within the University, the mission of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is to 
advance the understanding of human behavior, society and culture through education and 
research.  In doing so, many students are to be prepared for careers in a variety of professions, 
while others will study to broaden their horizons and enrich their lives.  Faculty research is to 
promote a better understanding of individual and social behavior and a deeper understanding of 
Israeli and other cultures.  Knowledge is to contribute to the spiritual and material development 
of the people of the Negev, Israel and the world.
Within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department of Politics and
Government was established in 1998.  
It describes itself as the youngest political science department in 
Israel.  It enrolls large numbers of BA and MA students, many of whom express satisfaction with 
living in Beer Sheva, with the overall atmosphere for undergraduate life at the university, and 
with their experiences in the department.  In its own mission statement, the Department writes 
that its uniqueness is reflected in its use of the name Politics and Government, rather than the 
more common Political Science, which it believes signals its own de-emphasis of the role of 
science in the study of politics.  While the term “Politics and Government” does not appear to be 
too unusual abroad,
the Department commits itself to combining classic political science with an 
interdisciplinary approach, alongside a “solid commitment to good citizenship and community 
activism.”  Members of the faculty are to actively engage in research and practical projects 
enabling them to contribute their expertise and to learn from the world of political organizations, 
grass roots movements and daily democratic practices.
A number of important and well established departments elsewhere have long been called 
“Government” (Harvard, Georgetown, Cornell), “Politics” (Princeton), “Government and 
Politics” (Maryland), and thus the name of the BGU Department is not unique.  6
The Department aims to prepare its students for engagement in Israeli political and social life 
which reflects the mission of the university.  However, the committee is concerned that the study 
of politics as a scientific discipline may be impeded by such strong emphasis on political 
activism. It is an appropriate mission to encourage students to become active citizens and engage 
in politics.  It is also a normal activity for faculty carrying out research and teaching in politics 
and government to be engaged in the politics of the society that constitutes their environment. 
And certainly, political science instructors are entitled to have their own opinion and to express 
them in class. 
But the strong emphasis on “community activism” emphasized by the Department raises at least 
two questions.  First, are students receiving a sufficiently rigorous foundation in the discipline of 
politics and government to equip them with a necessary grounding in the important ideas and 
understandings common to the subject and the discipline?  At the moment, the committee sees 
major weaknesses with regard to the Department’s core discipline of Political Science which 
need to be addressed immediately. Second, is there a balance of views in the curriculum and the 
classroom?  Particularly, political science instructors should see to it that their own opinions are 
expressed as personal views so that students can take a critical perspective and that there is a 
broad exposure to alternative perspectives in order to widen and deepen their own understanding.
The committee recognizes that the university leadership and the Department are mindful of these 
concerns and that the Department itself has begun to make some efforts to address these 
problems. The committee strongly recommends that these efforts be continued, and deepened.  
There is a case to be made for a program that distinguishes itself by an emphasis on engagement 
in society, but the effective implementation of this goal requires an improved grounding in the 
theoretical and analytical foundations of politics and government as well as a sustained commitment 
to providing balance and an essential range of viewpoints and perspectives on the great 
issues of politics. 
Such grounding must be based on disciplinary anchoring in the field of political science. At the 
moment, the Department is too weak in its core discipline of political science in terms of number 
of faculty, curriculum, and research. The committee believes that this situation needs to be 
changed immediately and that the Department should institute major changes toward strengthening its 
disciplinary and ethodological core through both hiring more faculty and altering its 
study programs (see below). Ben Gurion University and the MALAG should support these 
efforts, for example, by allocating university resources to this end and by monitoring the situation 
closely. If these changes are nevertheless not implemented,  the majority of the committee 
believes that, as a last resort, Ben Gurion University should consider closing the Department of 
Politics and Government.
3.2 The Study Program
The Department has defined its mission as being different from other departments in the country 
in two major ways.  The double mission is to be multi-disciplinary, on the one hand, and to be 
socially and/or politically involved, on the other hand. Yet, on paper, the study program does not 
differ greatly from the more or less conventional programs in the other universities in the 7
country.  Special courses that truly emphasize social involvement do not really exist, and the 
preparation of the students for that kind of activity is not done in formal courses. 
A more general and pressing need is simply to make sure there are more courses in the central 
discipline of  political science. While the formal and substantive self-definition of the “Department of 
Politics and Government” expands the boundaries of the concept of politics, the 
disciplinary basis is still that of political science, and it is not strong enough. There are not 
enough courses in the discipline, a point noted by the committee and made by students and by 
leading faculty.  The Department itself is aware of this and is  beginning to move in the right 
direction.  The committee strongly encourages and supports  such effort. The essentials of 
political science must be taught in the core courses of the study program and the curriculum 
needs to be changed accordingly and immediately.
This point is even more important in light of the emphasis on the multi-disciplinary (or interdisciplinary) 
nature of the program. In such programs, there is a need for students to acquire 
sound fundamentals of at least one discipline, so as not to lack exposure to the basics of modern 
scholarship in at least one major relevant area.  In a Department of Politics and Governments, 
this core discipline is political science.
The study program also must be strengthened in the methodological area.  The amount of credits 
devoted to research methods in both the BA and the MA program is extremely low. Thus, there is 
only one required research related course at the BA level – “Approaches and Methods in Political 
Science Research” (second year, first semester, 3 credits, 2 weekly teaching hours, 2 weekly 
exercise hours). Students at all levels and alumni complained about the limited share of 
methodological training in the department. We  understood  that there is no faculty member 
capable of teaching this course, and that it has been taught and will be taught by external 
teachers. We were also told that an elective research methods workshop will be added to the 
curriculum next year. 
We strongly recommend, therefore, that future hiring include political scientists and those who 
are capable of teaching research methods and that the number of courses devoted to methodology 
– both quantitative and qualitative  – be raised significantly in both the BA and MA curricula. 
This would ensure that the students acquire the necessary skills for a broad political science 
education and for advanced study.
One way in which the Department could integrate its commitment to social and political activism 
in the curriculum  would be to add an internship program, and to support this program with 
courses that allow students to make theoretical sense of their internship experiences and that 
teach the scholarly foundations of political practice or activity.  The Department does have 
workshops and study tours which facilitate at least a practical acquaintance with the real world of 
politics, and this is apparently in tune with the general direction the department would like to 
take.  Yet, the committee was told that there was only one elective course that offered practical 
experience. Students wanted more such courses and/or internships, particularly in local 
government, the Knesset as well as NGOs. The committee endorses these views. It also recommends 
that serious and constant supervision by the faculty should be exercised at all times to make sure 
that the scholarly standards of such activities are upheld, and that the assignments, grades and 8
other components of the course-work and internships are in accordance with the academic 
standards to which the department aspires. 
Another issue which came up during discussions and conversations with the students and the 
faculty had to do with the problem of balance in the curriculum and in the classroom (see above).  
Some BA students kept referring to this perception of lack of balance.  Any department which 
emphasizes political engagement as a major objective of its mission has to pay special attention 
to this question, and criticism from various  ends of the public spectrum are almost inevitable.  
The Department seems aware of this problem and appears to be taking steps to address it. It is 
also important to note that the majority of students emphasized that the people in charge were 
willing to listen to them when they identified problems and brought them to the attention of the 
faculty in the department.  The committee appreciates the steps made by the new chair and his 
colleagues  in this regard, and it strongly encourages them to continue these efforts with even 
greater intensity in the future.  In addition to making the program more balanced, the Department 
should also make an effort that it is perceived as such by the community concerned.
Several students also feel that the program as such is not sufficiently structured.  After the first 
year, there seems to be a rather eclectic set of courses, and they seem to lack a coherent focus.  
While some students like the freedom of choice implied in this situation, others feel that their 
course of studies in the department is simply too eclectic. The committee shares the view that the 
program is not sufficiently structured and  recommends, therefore, to make the program more 
coherent after the first year.  We suggest that the Department look at other political science 
curricula in Israel in order to make its own study program more coherent. 
The department has a distinct area of strength in its European studies program, which is fairly 
unique in Israel. This includes the only Jean Monnet Chair in Israel. We recommend to further 
build up this program as a unique selling point of the Department and to ensure that the faculty 
involved have a solid disciplinary basis in political science. 
The committee also appreciates efforts by the Department of Politics and Government to 
cooperate more closely with the Department of Public Policy. We recommend to continue these 
efforts and to move toward joint degree programs, once the  political science component of the 
Department has been strengthened. 
MA students would like to have a more diverse set of courses offered, and they would also like to 
have courses, which are substantially different from those in the BA program.  This aspiration, 
however, does not seem realistic, given the fact that there are not enough political science faculty  
to teach  even the required BA courses. As a result, the very value of the MA program in its 
present form is doubtful. The committee recommends, therefore, to hire more faculty in the core 
discipline of political science (including quantitative and qualitative methods, see above) in order 
to be able to offer a suitable MA program with a diverse set of courses including an English
language program. 
The committee has an additional concern about the Department’s commitment to training Ph.D. 
students. According to its “Update” of 29 March 2011, the Department currently has nine Ph.D., 
students and expects the number to increase to fourteen in the next academic year.  We do not 
find this a suitable undertaking at the present time.  Effective Ph.D. programs require extensive 9
time commitments by faculty, conscientious mentoring, strong disciplinary emphasis, and 
sufficient numbers of both faculty and doctoral students for regular seminars and colloquia. The 
Department lacks these resources, and the situation is exacerbated by the problems cited above.  
There is little justification for the present commitment, and the committee strongly advises 
against a PhD program in the current situation.
3.3 Faculty
Regular Faculty
The Department’s faculty (tenured and tenure track) appear to be a very close, integrated group 
from very diverse disciplines.  Everyone in the faculty praised the collegiality, cooperation and 
mutual support within the Department as well as what they described as the interdisciplinary and 
multidisciplinary nature of the Department.  Particularly noted was the attention and advice 
accorded to junior faculty in their research, and the value of the Departmental Research Seminar.  
The relatively small faculty do, in fact, come from diverse disciplines (Medicine, Geography, 
History, Sociology) which undoubtedly enriches the Department.  Yet, this raises questions 
regarding needed backgrounds and research in the discipline of political science as the core 
discipline of the Department. Of the nine tenure track and tenured faculty, only four are political 
scientists by training. 
The others are engaged in related fields, such as Political-Geography, Public Policy in Health, 
Holocaust Studies, Political Sociology, and the like.  On the whole, the faculty themselves see 
this not only as an advantage but also as part of their interest in interdisciplinarity. 
The number of faculty, whether political scientists or not, is far too small for the number of 
students (there is currently a  1:43 faculty-student ratio).  The faculty’s time is additionally 
stretched by administrative tasks, which fall in particular on the few senior faculty.  One result is 
that the Department relies on adjunct faculty for 30-50% of its courses. The Department presently
has one more “line” open, which will bring their total faculty to 10.  The Department believes 
that it needs 16-18 faculty to cover their present needs and allow for expansion, including a PhD 
program.  At the moment, there is clearly not sufficient faculty for a PhD program.  As a result 
and given the shortcomings in the Department’s disciplinary core and the study programs (see 
above), the committee strongly recommends that the Department be given the permission to hire 
three to four more faculty in its core discipline of political science, particularly in (quantitative) 
methodology and in European studies, a unique strength of the Department.  
The committee heard no complaints regarding hiring or promotion practices in the Department.  
Two of the lecturers were hired from the ranks of the adjuncts, and the tenure/promotion record 
of the Department was considered very good.  Tenure has never been denied a candidate put up 
for promotion, but one or two cases were mentioned of lecturers who would not have been put up 
for promotion had they remained. We recommend that common standards of scholarly achievements
and excellence are emphasized in the process of hiring and promotion. 10
The adjuncts expressed enthusiastic satisfaction with the atmosphere and the attitude towards 
them in the Department.  They said that they were included in all the Department funct'ions, 
faculty meetings, and research.  They also receive support and feed-back in their own research 
and believe that will be considered when there is hiring for tenure track positions.  In fact two 
adjuncts were hired to tenure track positions recently.  Nonetheless, the nature of the “adjunct” 
position, namely the number of hours they teach and the need to teach in several places (in order 
to make a living), limits their time for research and therefore their ability to compete for regular
faculty positions.  As mentioned above, the committee is particularly concerned about the fact 
that 30-50% of the core courses in the study programs are taught by adjuncts rather than regular
faculty. This serves as a further argument to increase the number of regular faculty in political 
3.4 Students
BA Students 
The BA students were enthusiastic about the availability and openness of the faculty (and 
Department administration), noting the attention and concern for students’ welfare as well as 
studies.  Some said that they were attracted to the Department because of its emphasis on 
activism.  Similarly, some students claimed that the studies were not particularly challenging 
while others said that they were (especially political economy, political theory, political 
geography).  There was agreement that the courses emphasized critical thinking and  activism.  
The former was apparent in the lively and very articulate discussion that took place among the 
students when the matter of political bias came up.  There was general agreement that a clear 
political leaning was apparent in the courses but that students seemed to be able to express 
different views.  The committee has no further recommendation with regard to the BA students 
other than to reiterate the points made above concerning the study programs and the faculty.
MA Students
The discussion with  the MA students was almost identical to that of the BA students: great 
enthusiasm about the open, caring and cooperative attitude of the faculty and the atmosphere in 
the department, along with satisfaction with the emphasis on activism.  Of a critical nature, they 
spoke of the limited span of fields in the Department, the limited variety (more of the same, for 
those who had done their BA there as well), though the Department was open to their taking 
courses outside the Department.  Similarly, due to the small number of faculty, students had to 
seek thesis supervisors outside the Department.  In response to the Committee’s query, the 
discussion of the political orientation of the Department was very similar to that of the BA 
students.  They said that the political orientation of the faculty and of the courses was clear but 
that one was free to go to other courses and that students were encouraged to be critical even of 
the lecturers.  The committee has commented on these issues above and sees no need for further 
recommendations here.11
PhD students 
The PhD  students appear to receive  substantial attention from the faculty as well as strong 
encouragement in their academic pursuits.  PhD students are also required to present their 
research at the Departmental Research Seminar, but there is no formal PhD seminar or workshop.  
Presumably this is because the Department does not have  its own  PhD program but faculty 
nonetheless supervise  political science students pursuing a PhD.  This clearly stretches still 
further the small faculty in the Department and, although the PhD students did not complain 
about access or time with their supervisors (the opposite was the case), it is hard to understand 
how the Department can in fact sustain PhD students with such a small faculty.  The committee, 
therefore, repeats its concerns about supervision of PhD students – let alone the move toward a 
PhD program – in light of the lack of faculty, particularly in political science. 
The PhD. students’ major complaint was that they do not have the financial means sufficient to 
be able to devote as much time as they want to their studies. This is a general problem of PhD 
studies in Israel which we will address in our general report.
With regard to their studies in the Department, alumni pointed with satisfaction to the link 
between theory and practice. Those who were doing advance studies (elsewhere) definitely felt 
that they were up to the same level as graduate students from other universities.  They valued the 
emphasis on activism which, in the case of one of them, had put the student on the path to 
become head of an NGO as an undergraduate and a high position today in the World Jewish 
Congress.  However, alumni were critical of the level of the BA studies, claiming that the courses 
were too easy and that there should be required courses after the first year.  We have addressed 
these issues above.
On the whole, the committee was impressed by the diversity of students (particularly the BA 
students) and alumni who almost unanimously expressed great enthusiasm for the Department’s 
mission of combining academic studies and social activism.  Though we have real concerns 
about this mission and the Department’s weaknesses in its core discipline of political science (see
above), we do note that  – judging from student and alumni comments in our meetings  – there 
does seem to be substantial satisfaction with their experience at the Department.
3.5 Research
The committee feels that the research performance of the Department can be improved considerably. 
As the mission statement points out, members of the faculty are to actively engage in 
research and practical projects enabling them to contribute their expertise and to learn from the 
world of political organizations, grass roots movements and daily democratic practices. Yet, an 
examination of faculty publications raises concerns about the department’s research. Members of 12
the department have raised the equivalent of more than 700,000 USD in research grants since 
December 2009 which is certainly impressive. Yet, the new publications mentioned in the 
“update” to the evaluation report are less extraordinary. While many books were published by 
good academic publishers, few books in the materials presented to the committee were published 
by leading university presses and none of the articles mentioned were published by leading 
political science journals. A junior faculty member whose research focuses on European issues 
demonstrates an encouraging exception. In the original report, which covered a five-year period, 
only a couple of articles of all faculty members combined were published in leading political 
science journals. During the whole period examined approximately 30 articles were published by 
faculty members in political science journals covered by Thomson ISI
The committee recommends, therefore, to strengthen the overall research performance of the 
Department and to spell out more clearly individual performance criteria for tenure and promotion 
criteria, in line with MALAG’s general criteria. One could also develop an incentive system 
such as additional research funding in case of successful publications in major journals or with 
leading university publishers, start-up grants to help faculty with the application process for 
research grants, and the like. Acquisition of research grants should also be an explicit part of the 
criteria for promotion and tenure.
3.6 Broader Organizational Structure
The Department of Politics and Government is one of some twenty departments formally located 
in Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences under the general authority of the Dean of the 
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, who in turn reports directly to the Rector.  
Day-today management of the Department is the responsibility of the Chair, although much work is 
apparently delegated to senior academic staff through a network of key committees.  Overall, the 
Department’s organizational structure seems to fun'ction reasonably well with a high degree of 
3.7 Infrastructure
We find little reason to question the overall adequacy of the physical and administrative 
infrastructure available to the Department’s study program.  The Department is located on the 
sixth floor of the social sciences building, a relatively new structure on the University’s main
campus, with 17 rooms available for academic and administrative staff, each equipped with a 
computer and internet access.  Classroom space also appears to be adequate with all the 
necessary equipment.  The administrative staff, we were assured, is first rate.
One specific problem we noted was a lack of sufficient space for graduate students and adjunct 
professors.  Another was the computer lab, which is very small with only six computers.  The 
biggest challenge, however, is the library, which is woefully inadequate.  One central library 
serves the entire campus, with just a single floor dedicated to all of the social sciences.  The 
collection of books in political science is small and starved of funds, and access to electronic 13
journals is sadly incomplete.  The committee strongly recommends that more resources be made 
available to the library if the Department’s educational functi'on is to be served adequately.
3.8 Quality assessment
The Department appears to have a well developed set of internal procedures  
for quality assessments, including regular reviews of the study program and teaching surveys.  
We were particularly impressed by the new chair’s decision to institutionalize regular meetings
with graduate 
students to assess the quality of instruction on an ongoing basis.  However, in light of the 
changes to the number of faculty and study programs recommended in this report, the committee 
suggests that the Department prepares an annual progress report with regard to the implementation 
of these recommendations.14
Chapter 4: Recommendations
4.1 Congratulatory Remarks
In its mission statement, the Department of Politics and Government commits itself to combining 
classic political science with an interdisciplinary approach, alongside a “solid commitment to 
good  citizenship and community activism.”  Members of the faculty are to actively engage in 
research and practical projects enabling them to contribute their expertise and to learn from the 
world of political organizations, grass roots movements, and daily democratic practices.  While 
the committee has major concerns about the weaknesses in the Department’s core discipline of 
political science, we agree that engagement in politics and society is a normal and appropriate 
activity for those who teach and do research in politics and government, as long as this does not 
overshadow academic work. The committee  appreciates the efforts that the new chair and his 
colleagues are making to come to terms with these issues and to improve the academic standards 
of the program. 
The committee was impressed by the collegiality of the faculty which appear to be a very close, 
integrated group that benefits from their diverse disciplines.  Particularly noted was the attention 
and advice accorded to junior faculty in their research, and the value of the Departmental 
Research Seminar. The committee also  appreciates the diversity of students and alumni who 
expressed enthusiasm for the Department’s mission of combining academic studies and social 
4.2 Recommendations 
Mission of the Department 
With regard to the Department’s mission to combine academic excellence with social activism, 
the committee recommends
• that the Department corrects its current weaknesses in its core discipline of  political 
science in terms of number of faculty, curriculum, and research;
• that the Department institutes major changes toward strengthening its disciplinary and 
methodological core through both hiring more  political science  faculty and altering its 
study programs;
• that Ben Gurion University and the MALAG support these efforts, for example, by
allocating university resources and by monitoring the situation closely.
If these changes are nevertheless not implemented, the majority of the committee believes 
that, as a last resort, Ben Gurion University should consider closing the Department of 
Politics and Government.15
Study Programs and Students
With regard to the study programs and the students, the committee recommends
• that  the curriculum be changed immediately with regard to adding  more core political 
science courses as required courses  and to teaching the essentials of political science in 
these cores courses;
• that the number of courses devoted to methodology – both quantitative and qualitative - be 
raised dramatically in both the BA and the MA curricula;
• that the BA program be made more coherent after the first year;
• that a regular internship program be introduced into the curriculum and that this program 
be supported with courses allowing students to make theoretical sense of their internship 
• that serious and constant supervision by the faculty be exercised at all times to make sure 
that the scholarly standards of  internships and other activities are upheld and that the 
assignments, grades and other components of the course-work and internships are in 
accordance with academic standards to which the department aspires;
• that instructors see to it that their own opinions are expressed as personal views so that 
students can take a critical perspective and that there is a broad exposure to perspectives 
and alternatives;
• that the Department makes  an effort that the program is perceived as balanced by the 
community concerned;
• that the Department cooperate more closely with the Department of Public Policy and that 
it moves toward joint degree programs, once the political science component of the
department has been strengthened;
• that no PhD program be introduced and that the number of PhD students be greatly limited 
at the moment.
Faculty and Research
With regard to the faculty and to research, the committee recommends
• that the Department be given permission to hire three to four more faculty in the core 
discipline of political science, particularly in the areas of (quantitative) methodology and 
European studies;
• that the European studies  program be sustained and built up as a unique selling point of 
the Department and that the faculty involved be required to have a solid disciplinary basis 
in political science;
• that common standards of scholarly achievements and excellence are emphasized in the 
process of hiring and promotion;16
• that the number of adjuncts be reduced, commensurate with adding regular faculty, and 
that the existing adjunct professors be given adequate office space;
• that an incentive system be developed to improve research performance, such as additional 
research funding in case of successful publications in major journals or with leading 
university publishers, start-up grants to help faculty with the application process for 
research grants, and the like;
• that considerably more  resources be made available to the library for the social sciences, 
both with regard to the collection of books and electronic resources including journals.17
Minority Opinion by Prof. Galia Golan
I agree with most everything in the Report with the exception of the section of the report on the 
Mission plus the two Recommendations emanating from this.
I do not see how, as stated in the Mission section of the Report, “the study of politics as a 
scientific discipline may be impeded by such a strong emphasis on political activism.”  I fail to 
see the connection, which actually is repeated in the statement that the “strong emphasis on 
community activism raises two questions.”  I agree with the content of the first question listed, 
namely, “are students receiving a sufficiently rigorous foundation in the discipline of politics and 
government to equip them with a necessary grounding in the important ideas and understandings 
common to the subject and the discipline?” but, again, I do not see this as connected with an
emphasis on community activism, but, rather, it is connected with the absence of sufficient core 
Political Science courses.   Further, as this section continues, there is also a reference to “balance 
[of views]…in the classroom.”  I am not certain who or how a “balance” might be determined, 
but I believe that such a demand runs directly counter to the principle of academic freedom, a 
basic principle of university education.
From this, it is clear that I cannot agree with the recommendations that refer to “broad exposure 
to perspectives and alternatives” and “an effort that the program is perceived as balanced by the 
community concerned.”18
Signed by: 
________________________ ________________________

Prof. Thomas Risse, Chair Prof. Gabriel Ben Dor 
__________________________          __________________________

Prof. Benjamin Jerry Cohen Prof. Abraham Diskin
____________________ _____________________

Prof. Ellen Immergut Prof. Robert Lieber19
Appendix 1: Copy of Letter of Appointment20
Appendix 2: Site Visit Schedule21

BGU response to   
Department of Politics and Government  
Evaluation Report 
October 2011 
As the youngest and smallest department in Israel, the in-depth evaluation is of great assistance to us and will 
ensure the department consolidates into a strong department. All comments and recommendations raised in the 
evaluation report will be considered and addressed in-depth. 
The Departmet was founded a priori to reflect the changing discourse of the social sciences and to implement a 
multidisciplinary approach. It was not founded to be a traditional political science department, nor to directly 
compete with the other four (now five) Departments  of Political Science which retain a more rigid and 
traditional style in their teaching structure. It was for this reason that the Department was named the Department 
of Politics and Government, rather than the Department of Political Science, it was for this reason that the 
Council of Higher Education recommended its establishment, and it was for this reason that much of the hiring 
was outside the core areas of traditional Political Science. This is the raison d’être of the Department and it 
partially explains the lack of core area teaching within traditional political science. The Department understands 
this need and will prepare a thorough plan to ensure the core is enhanced as recommended by the committee. 
Some changes in curriculum have already been addressed and we will continue to enhance this point and 
present a full plan at the end of the academic year. The MA curricula will be revised according to the specific 
recommendations raised. 
The need for 3 to 4 additional tenure track positions within the next 4 to 5 years will be discussed as part of the 
preparation of the Five-Year Strategic Plan for the Faculty and University, which is presently being prepared 
and will be drawn up in 2012. Once new recruitments will be approved they will focus on the core areas of the 
discipline, such as international relations, comparative politics, political thought, quantitative methods. The aim 
will be to recruit at least one faculty within the diverse areas of political science (comparative politics, political 
theory, methodology, international relations, and so on) who displays a strong European focus. Along with its 
cross-disciplinary focus, this is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of this Department when 
compared with other departments of political science in Israel which we will try to strengthen. New 
recruitments will be approved only based on scholarly achievements and excellence to ensure the department 
research record. 
The idea of joint teaching between the Department of Politics and Government and the Department of Public 
Policy (located within the Faculty of Business and Management) is interesting and will be discussed in detail 
along the upcoming academic year. Additionally, we  will continue strengthening the cooperation with three 
other departments – Sociology and Anthropology, Communications, and Middle Eastern Studies, again as an 
indication of the cross-disciplinary focus within this Faculty. 
We are aware of the limited library facilities we provide. This has been placed on top priority of the university 
and we are seeking funds to establish a new library building with a substantial budget for purchasing books. The 
university aims to improve the library facilities which are critical for the quality of research and teaching.  
Specific recommendations/comments 
Study program 
The  new curriculum has seven mandatory core disciplinary political science courses in line with the 
committee’s recommendation (Introduction to Politics and Government, Political Theory 1 and 2, IR, 
Introduction to the Israeli Political System, Historical Introduction to Contemporary Politics, Approaches and 
Methodologies, and Comparative Politics), and one or two obligatory seminars. The number of core mandatory 
courses is clearly higher than the requirements of parallel departments in leading universities such as Harvard, 
Princeton, Berkeley and Cornell, which require up to four core mandatory courses (the program at Harvard even 
emphasizes the importance of flexibility in building a curriculum and the fact that students have the freedom to 
“tailor the Government Department to [their] needs”).  
A thorough revision that raises the number of courses devoted to methodology - both quantitative and 
qualitative for both the BA and MA curricula will be presented by March 2012. A structured program will be 
presented. The balance of views in the curriculum will be ensured in the revised plan. The MA program will be 
investigated in-depth in-line of the committee’s recommendations. 
Three internship courses are offered this year. Also in line with the committee’s recommendations, for the 
coming year we have extended internships to include not only NGOs, but also local government offices. 
All other comments will be discussed and a thorough plan presented by the end of the Academic Year including 
cooperation with other departments as proposed and discussed in above. 
We would like to note the high registration of students to this Department, with high scores in matriculation and 
psychometric exams. We assume that this is an outcome of the unique approach the department has taken and 
hopefully once the recommendations will be fulfilled we will further improve our student composition which 
will reflect also on the research outcome.   
As the committee noted, we must improve our research record, and there are several facts indicating that we are 
doing so. In the last two years, the Department has raised US$ 1,250,000  in grants, one of our faculty members 
has become the first person from BGU to receive the EU's prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship, and three new 
post-doctoral researchers will join the Department  this coming year. While the number and quality of our 
publications can and should be improved (and as suggested by the committee, we must think of incentives that 
will encourage this), the figures given by the committee undervalue the Department’s achievements. We assume 
this is because the committee members failed to take into account the interdisciplinary nature of the 
Department, which leads faculty members to publish  in leading journals that are ranked highly in other
disciplines (e.g., sociology, human geography) and to publish more books than is common in other political 
science departments. Since only journals in the subfield of political science were probably considered, the 
committee’s figure of articles published in journals covered by Thomson ISI underestimates the real numbers 
by at least 50%. However, a thorough analysis will  be conducted by the department aiming to improve the 
publication outcome in high quality journals. The committee’s claim that “none of the books…were published 
by leading university presses”: In the last three years, Department members published two books in university 
presses ranked among the top ten in political science (University of California ranked #7, Cornell University 
Press ranked # 8, and three other books were published by presses that ranked among the top 20 (Routledge and 
Columbia University Press). We will aim to improve this record. 
A thorough plan to significantly improve the research record of the department will be presented by end of the 
Academic year 2012. 

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