Nature between Science and Religion: Jewish Culture and the Natural World 

Deadline: October 31, 2016

During the 2017–2018 fellowship year, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies seeks to ask new questions about the history of science, medicine and technology from the perspective of Jewish culture.

This year will explore the theories, institutions, and paradigms that shaped how Jews have studied nature, and the ideas, applications, and cultural and religious consequences that emerged from such study. The fellowship is open to scholars working on particular thinkers, texts or theories, as well as research projects that frame the subject in relation to Classical, Christian, Muslim, or secular approaches.

This theme spans the entirety of Jewish history, and encompasses the history of science, the anthropology of science, philosophy, philology, and environmental studies, among other potentially relevant fields. This theme shall embrace an interdisciplinary and comparative approach and encourages projects within fields of inquiry that bear on how Jews have understood, interacted with, or sought to intervene into nature. This could include but is not limited to: astrology, magic and other esoteric forms of knowledge, medieval and early modern natural philosophy, Zionism and its impact on scientific and medical practice, contemporary research in genetics, as well as mathematics and technology. Among the larger questions that fellows might address are:

  • How have Jews conceived, studied, and talked about nature and the natural world in different historical periods?
  • In what ways has Jewish scientific engagement in nature been shaped by religious belief and practice? What is the relationship between science and Halakhah, or between science and Jewish religious thought?
  • What can be learned by reframing Jewish engagement in nature within a broader context? What insights can be gleaned by comparing Jewish scientific interest with Islamic, Christian, or modern secular science? To what extent has science or medicine served as a medium of interaction and exchange with non-Jewish communities?
  • What can one learn about Jewish engagement in science by attending to the practices and institutions of scientific culture (e.g., universities, medical schools) or by examining the social and discursive practices of science?
  • How has Zionism shaped Jewish medical and scientific activity or vice versa?

The Katz Center invites applications from scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts at all levels, as well as outstanding graduate students in the final stages of writing their dissertations and who are planning to receive their Ph.D. by the start date of the fellowship. All scholars whose work fits squarely into the proposed research topic are eligible to apply. Fellowships granted may be for one semester or the full academic year. Scholars are required to spend the term of the fellowship in residence in Philadelphia at the Katz Center. The fellowship is open to all scholars, national and international, who meet application terms. International scholars are appointed under a J-1 visa only (Research Scholar status). No exceptions can be made, and the Katz Center reserves the right to cancel awards if the recipient is unable to meet this condition. Applicants should consult the international programs office at their current university to confirm eligibility before applying for this fellowship.



Please note you will be redirected to, our online application portal.  



What is required to apply?

1. Application form 2. A research proposal (less than 1000 words) 3. A current C.V. 4. Three (3) letters of recommendation 5. For current graduate students: we require a short writing sample (less than 20 pages)

Can I apply for just one semester?

Yes, applicants can apply for a full year fellowship (September-April), a fall term fellowship (September-December), or a spring term fellowship (January-April). On the application form, you can indicate all terms in which you are interested.

When will successful applicants be notified?

No later than March 1, 2017.

Fellowship Details and Requirements

What does the Katz Center provide to fellows?

Each fellow will be provided with an office at the Center, a computer, printing, copying, and scanning; and access to administrative assistance as well as access to our library and all libraries within the University of Pennsylvania Library System.

What does the Katz Center require of Fellows?

We require fellows to be present at the Center a minimum of four days per week (Monday through Friday) during the term of fellowship with the exception of university and Jewish holidays, and to participate fully in Center activities, which consist of a weekly seminar, occasional special events, and a year-end colloquium. Fellows are also encouraged to initiate their own ideas for how to promote intellectual and social interaction. The center offers numerous possibilities for public programming and sharing research with the wider community. These are completely optional and not obligatory, though many fellows find it very useful to share their work in this way.


How is the stipend calculated?

Stipend amounts are based on academic standing and financial need, ranging between $45,000 - $60,000 for the academic year.

What else is included in the stipend offer?

The center provides single-coverage health insurance (fellows are responsible for coverage for any dependents). A modest one-time travel reimbursement is also provided.

Residency and Accommodations

Are fellows required to be in residence?

Yes, fellows are expected to be in residence at the Katz Center in Philadelphia at least four (4) days a week. We provide you with an office, computer, and general assistance while at the center.

Does the Katz Center provide housing?

No, the center does not provide housing and it is not included in the fellowship stipend. Should you receive a fellowship, we are available to assist you in your housing search, though you are ultimately responsible for securing your own accommodations.