Tel-Hai Innovation's True North
Tel-Hai Innovation's True North
“It is a great privilege for me to lead Tel-Hai College in this exciting period, in which opportunities for significant achievements, in academics, in community, in science, are on our doorstep every day. I am a big believer in the ability of academic institutions not only to create infrastructure for learning and knowledge, but also to spread out a wide arena of significant growth engines at regional, national and global levels", says Professor Yosef Mekori, President of Tel-Hai College, as he explains the uniqueness of the College. Tel-Hai, which operates on two campuses north of Kiryat Shmona, is home to 4,000 students, most of who come from across the country and not necessarily from the nearby area.
The College was recognized as an independent academic institution in 1996, and has since grown to be the leading public college in Israel. “The fact that more than 70% of our students come from places in Israel outside the Galilee testifies not only to a unique learning environment that has developed here, but also to the high academic level that we have succeeded in creating in the northernmost periphery of the state of Israel. We strive to open the widest possible options in employment and research for these young people and to encourage them to fulfill themselves and their dreams. Yet we are trying to make it possible for as many of them as possible to find the continuation of their journey here in the Galilee – whether in employment or in academic studies and research,” says Eli Cohen, CEO of the College.
The College operates two faculties, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science and the Faculty of Science and Technology. In these frameworks, the College offers 21 curricula for undergraduate and masters’ degrees. The range of fields is wide, and runs from B.A. in East Asian Studies to M. Sc. in Biotechnology and includes Education, Social Work, Psychology, Biotechnology, Nutrition, Food Science, Environmental Science, Computer Science and more.
Both in the exact sciences and the social sciences, the unique ecosystem of the eastern Galilee – natural and human – constitutes a wealth of sources of knowledge and inspiration from which the professors and students draw the core subjects for study and research. The rare ecological diversity in a radius of about 40 kilometers, from the Golan Heights mountains to the Hula Valley, and the diverse agricultural activity taking place in the region, are a foundation for groundbreaking research of global significance. In these fields, the College works in close, productive cooperation with MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute: lecturers in the fields of Environment, Biotechnology, Nutrition, and Health teach at the college and conduct their research at the internationally renowned research institute. The synergy between these two regional powers, Tel-Hai and MIGAL, forms a basis for significant development and signals the future of the eastern Galilee as a whole as a center of academic studies, research and implementation in the fields of food, environmental studies, biotechnology and health.
In the Food Science Department, which focuses on research on food itself and food technologies, there is close and wide cooperation with food industries in Israel and around the world. The food laboratories at the College, which boast cutting-edge organoleptic equipment, provide infrastructure for growing joint activities.
“In this special environment of the eastern Galilee, to establish an academic and social arena teeming with achievement and innovation requires no small measure of creativity and determination, and sometimes real courage; we have to work together. Tel-Hai is better and grows more by virtue of this approach; not as a closed-off ivory tower but on the contrary, as a growth engine that receives its support in large part from these joint programs. I hope that we are also imparting some of this to our students,” explains Professor Mekori.
In the social sciences too, the unique mosaic of the Galilee population meets professors and researchers of courage and vision. The program for study of stress and trauma, for example, is based on a model that was created and developed by Dr. Moshe Farhi, from the Social Work Department. The program, which trains providers of emotional first aid in emergency situations, was developed on the basis of Dr. Farhi’s experience in emergency situations in the eastern Galilee, the Golan Heights, and along the frontlines.
Around the Galilee, Town Square Academy, an initiative that grew from a core group of lecturers and students at the College, works to bring knowledge and skills developed inside the college to the public sphere, to the town square. The program, led by Dr. Ayelet Shavit, from the Philosophy program, operates courses in different community arenas throughout the Galilee and creates meaningful dialogue between academics and the community in which they operate.
“The College’s vision talks about how the College will lead academics and scientific research in the Galilee, while carrying the banner of excellence, entrepreneurship and the pioneering spirit of its founders. This legacy of pioneering is something we inherited from the founders of the region, who established settlements here and in the first days hiked two hours up and down the mountain to bring themselves water. Their legacy, that the greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity, is an excellent compass for us,” emphasizes Professor Mekori.
“Right now, we are building relationships with leading universities in the world and are working to expand our international activities in both teaching and research. The short term goal is to build the infrastructure to establish the first research college in Israel. After that? The sky is the limit.”