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Semester in Jerusalem

Engage With Ancient and Modern Narratives

A Wheaton College faculty-led semester program where students study and engage with ancient biblical and modern Middle East narratives.

Semester in Jerusalem students being served Turkish coffee. Students in front of the Dome of the Rock. Students looking at medieval tower. Students listening to tour guide teaching.

The program is:

  • Inter-disciplinary—students can apply course credits to various majors and minors and earn thematic tags.
  • Experiential—the courses include on-site field studies and excursions. 
  • Cross cultural—students experience meaningful interaction with local individuals and communities.
  • Formative—the program provides foundational learning, experience, and application that can help shape a student's vision of love, service, and peace. 

Location

Students reside and study at Jerusalem University College in Jerusalem, the cradle of ancient civilizations and one of the most vibrant cultural and religious communities in the world. Jerusalem has played a major role in world events for centuries—it is a city of religious and political significance. The JUC campus is nestled atop Mount Zion next to the Old City. In addition to classroom work at JUC, the program includes field studies to historical, cultural, religious, and political sites throughout Israel and (travel permitting) the West Bank territories and into Jordan.

Prior to studying at JUC and if there are no travel restrictions, students will begin the program in a location with a comparative environment such as Cairo, Egypt. There the program will set the stage for studying the political, cultural, and socio-economic issues in the region. If there are travel restrictions, the program will launch in an alternate location.

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Living Arrangements

With the exception of hotels and other accommodations during overnight excursions, students live in dorm rooms at Jerusalem University College.

Requirements and Prerequisites

Students must be undergraduates in good academic and judicial standing and have at least a 2.5 GPA to participate. All program participants must complete GPS 231: Orientation to Study Abroad (2 hrs.) offered during B quad of the fall semester prior to the program. It is recommended (but not required) that students complete either BITH 211: OT Literature and Interpretation or BITH 213: NT Literature and Interpretation prior to the program.

Note: As of January 27, 2022, Wheaton College requires all individuals who participate in international programs to be up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccination(s). To be up-to-date, a person must receive a booster shot when and if eligible prior to departure and/or if required by the host country.

Courses

Students earn 16 credit hours during the program. Many courses are accepted for major or minor elective credit by the related academic department(s) and some fulfill CATC thematic core tags. Courses at Jerusalem University College are taught by noted Israeli and Palestinian professors who are experts in their fields. Students also take a one-credit service practicum and a two-credit integrative course, both overseen and taught by the Wheaton College professor in residence.

Students complete the following required courses:

  • GPS 306: Physical Settings of the Bible (4 credit hrs.) HP
    A study of the physical features of the land of the Bible with an emphasis on the geographical elements of various regions and how geography influenced and affected aspects of biblical and extra-biblical history. Relevant archaeological, historical and biblical material is integrated into the lectures and field studies where it is correlated with the sites visited, the ancient network of roads and geographical elements of the land.
  • GPS 319: Society and Politics in the Holy Land: Palestinian and Israeli Perspectives (3 credit hrs.) GP
    The course will examine central historical, social and political issues as these relate to Israeli and Palestinian societies. Course topics will be covered alternately by both an Israeli and a Palestinian professor, long associated with Jerusalem University College. The final class, taught jointly, will examine each side's positions and expectations regarding present realities and future prospects for peace and reconciliation.
  • GPS 305: Journeys across Cultures: TBD (2 credit hrs.) 
  • GPS 315: Practicum: Engaging Modern Middle East Narratives (1 credit hr.)
    Students are placed in approved cross-cultural settings in Israel and/or the West Bank for 3 hours per week in order to develop practical skills necessary for leadership or service in a wide variety of contexts in the Middle East.  Settings include schools, sports, churches, shelters, food banks.

Students choose two electives from the following anticipated courses:
(elective courses are pending approval from the Wheaton College Curriculum Committee

  • GPS XXX: Biblical Archaeology II (3 credit hrs.)
    A survey of the results of archaeological investigations in the land of the Bible from the Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods. Emphasis is placed upon relating archaeological finds to historical records, including the New Testament.
  • GPS XXX: Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible* (3 credit hrs.) 
    An analysis of various aspects of life in biblical times to provide focal points to help the student understand biblical customs and ways of thought more accurately. 
  • GPS XXX: History of the of the Second Temple Period (3 credit hrs.) 
    An overview of the history of ancient Israel during the formative period of both Judaism and Christianity. It also provides a background to the Apocrypha and the New Testament. The course will use a combination of biblical, archaeological and historical data, emphasizing the distinct methodologies used in the study of each.
  • GPS XXX: Hermeneutics of OT Texts in Jewish and Christian Tradition (3 credit hrs.)
    A comparative study of hermeneutical methods for reading the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament in early Jewish and Christian tradition. 
  • GPS XXX: The Parables of Jesus and Rabbinic Meshalim (3 credit hrs.)
    A seminar study of the parables of the Gospels and the Meshalim (Rabbinic parables) found in classical rabbinic literature, including issues of hermeneutics, methodology of approach, and content. 
  • GPS 403: Iconographic Art in Judaism and Early Christianity (3 credit hrs.) VPAV 
    A study of the art of Judaism and early Christianity in the centuries following the Second Temple period that expresses biblical and theological themes.
  • GPS XXX: Jewish Thought and Practice (3 credit hrs.)
    The course will describe the nature of present-day Jewish religious beliefs, books, and practices with an emphasis on their development throughout the ages.
  • GPS XXX: Islamic Thought and Practice (3 credit hrs.) 
    This course introduces the religion and history of Islam from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (7th century AD) until today, with an emphasis on the development of basic themes and trends which are a part of Islam today.
  • GPS XXX: Historical and Social Settings of Modern Israel (3 credit hrs.) 
    An examination of historical, social and political aspects of contemporary Israeli society, including the ideologies and groups that have played a major role in the formation of Israeli society. Emphasis is placed on social and political issues which are at the center of current debate in the country.

 *   The course includes a six-day field study to Bedouin areas in Jordan, concluding May 8th

Anticipated Major/Minor Elective Credits for Courses (beginning with the 2023-24 catalog*)

  • GPS 306: Physical Settings of the Bible: ANTH, ARCH, BITH, GEOL
  • GPS 319: Society and Politics in the Holy Land: ANTH, IR/PSCI, PACS
  • GPS XXX: Biblical Archaeology II: ARCH, BITH
  • GPS XXX: Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible: ARCH, BITH 
  • GPS XXX: History of the Second Temple Period: ARCH, BITH
  • GPS XXX: Hermeneutics of OT Texts in Jewish and Christian Tradition: ARCH, BITH
  • GPS XXX: The Parables of Jesus and Rabbinic Meshalim: ARCH, BITH
  • GPS 403: Iconographic Art in Judaism and Early Christianity: ART 
  • GPS XXX: Jewish Thought and Practice: IR/PSCI, PACS, PPE, PHIL
  • GPS XXX: Islamic Thought and Practice: IR/PSCI, PACS, PPE, PHIL
  • GPS XXX: Historical and Social Settings of Modern Israel: IR/PSCI, PACS

ANTH majors/minors may earn up to 6 elective credits. Physical Settings fulfills the archaeology requirement for the Anthropology major. Society and Politics in the Holy Land can be applied towards the Anthropology major with department permission. 

Physical Settings, Biblical Archaeology II, History of the Second Temple Period, or Cultural Backgrounds can count toward fulfilling the 6-hours of the elective block in the Archaeology major. Two hours could be drawn from Biblical Archaeology II or History of the Second Temple toward the core requirement curricular slot currently occupied by ARCH 345. Up to six hours can be drawn from Cultural Backgrounds, Hermeneutics of OT Texts, or The Parables of Jesus to count toward the interdisciplinary emphasis portion of the Archaeology major.

BITH majors/minors may earn up to 9 elective credits. Biblical Archeology II, History of the Second Temple, or Cultural Backgrounds count toward the archaeology requirement. 

IR/PSCI majors/minors may earn up to 6 elective credits by taking Society and Politics in the Holy Land, Jewish Thought and Practice, Islamic Thought and Practice, or Historical and Social Settings of Modern Israel. Those completing the PACS Certificate may apply any of the four courses toward the certificate.

Jewish Thought and Practice and Islamic Thought and Practice may be applied to the PPE Certificate as elective courses from the Philosophy discipline.

Philosophy majors/minors may earn 3 elective credits by taking Jewish Thought and Practice or Islamic Thought and Practice.

History of the Second Temple Period may be applied towards the History major/minor with department approval (pending approval).

*Students under a catalog year prior to the 2023-24 undergraduate catalog should use the above chart as a guide; for those students, some courses do not automatically count toward a major or minor. Students may seek approval through the departmental recommendation process (documentation should be on file prior to the start of the program).

Anticipated Semester Dates*  

January 8 –May 3, 2024 (*Program dates are tentative and contingent on sufficient enrollment)

Cost

Program costs are equivalent to a full-time on-campus semester at Wheaton (full tuition; double/triple dorm room; full board-18 AYCE meal plan) and cover program tuition, room and board, academic excursions, and transportation within the program (surface and air). This does not cover passport or visa fees (if more than the standard fee), airfare to Tel Aviv and return from the program, vaccinations or pre-program medical tests, textbooks, and other personal expenses.

A $500 non-refundable deposit is collected after acceptance to the program and applied toward the program tuition fee. Financial aid is available for the program on the same basis as that of an on-campus semester.

Faculty Leader for Spring 2024

Dr. Timothy Taylor, Associate Professor of International Relations

Dr. Taylor at JUCI am thrilled to have the opportunity to share this semester study experience with students by serving as the faculty leader for Wheaton’s Semester in Jerusalem program in Spring 2024. I am a graduate of Taylor University, completed my PhD in 2016, and then joined the faculty at Wheaton College where I am currently an Associate Professor of International Relations. I have loved teaching a variety of classes in the International Relations major and the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) certificate.

I will be joined by my wife, Kim, and our four children. After graduating from Taylor University, we lived and taught in the Philippines for two years. I also studied in the Middle East as an undergraduate student in the fall semester of my junior year. Having the opportunity to live in Cairo, Egypt and travel extensively across Israel, Syria, and Lebanon were transformative for my Christian faith, education, and what led to my career in International Relations. I cannot wait to join students on what will be a lifetime opportunity of transformation, growth, and friendship.

Please email using the contact information below if you have questions about the program and I would be delighted to schedule a time for us to meet. My wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed living near campus and forming meaningful relationships with Wheaton students. We look forward to being part of the Wheaton community in Jerusalem.

Program Director

Dr. Chris Vlachos, Visiting Associate Lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies

Dr. Chris VlachosI am delighted to be serving as the Program Director for the Semester in Israel program, having served five years as director of and trip leader of the program in 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. I was thankful to lead the inaugural Semester in Jerusalem cohort in the fall 2021 semester and look forward to being in Israel again with Wheaton students in fall 2022!

I became a Christian in 1973 while a student at the University of Idaho. After a time of work and study at L’Abri Fellowship in Huemoz, Switzerland, I returned to school to earn a B.A. in biblical studies at Trinity College (Deerfield) and an M.A. in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

I went on to serve on the mission field in Utah for twenty-five years, most of that time pastoring a church and serving as an instructor at Salt Lake Theological Seminary. After retiring from the pastorate and seminary, I earned a Ph.D. in Biblical Theology in 2006 (Pauline studies) from Wheaton College where I have since taught New Testament courses. Many of these courses are pertinent to study abroad in the biblical lands, including New Testament Literature and Interpretation, Acts and the Journeys of Paul, Prison Epistles of Paul, and Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. 

Learn More

If you have questions or would like to know more about the Semester in Jerusalem program, contact us at Semester.in.Jerusalem@wheaton.edu

How to Apply

To apply, visit GoGlobal, Wheaton College's registration system for off-campus study and international travel, research, and internships.

The application for the spring 2024 cohort will open in late fall 2022 or early winter 2023.