Founded in 2015, the Academic Engagement Network (AEN) is a national organization of faculty members and staff on American university and college campuses which seeks to oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel, to support robust discussion, research, and education about Israel in the academy, to promote campus free expression and academic freedom, and to counter antisemitism when it occurs on campus.
In recent years, Israel’s detractors on campus–both faculty and students–have used increasingly aggressive tactics to delegitimize Israel and demoralize its supporters. These have included attempts to exclude Jewish and Zionist students from participation in progressive coalitions, efforts to withdraw their own universities from study abroad and exchange relationships with Israeli academic institutions, campaigns seeking to discredit major Jewish American organizations and initiatives, denials of funding and recognition to pro-Israel student organizations, and refusals to write letters of recommendation for students wishing to study at Israeli universities.
THESE CURRENTS RESULT IN A COARSENED, HOSTILE CLIMATE FOR JEWISH AND ZIONIST FACULTY AND STUDENTS AND RUN CONTRARY TO THE FUNDAMENTAL VALUES OF THE ACADEMY.
AEN believes that faculty can play a critical role in countering these trends, including by using their institutional knowledge, authority, and academic expertise to speak, write, mentor students, host campus programs, work constructively with campus leaders and stakeholders, and more. To support members in their efforts to further the organization’s goals, AEN provides micro-grants and other forms of financial support to faculty members to host campus programs; prepares guides and other educational resources; sponsors conferences, seminars, and convenings for faculty; offers advice and guidance to faculty members who are facing issues on their campuses; and connects and mobilizes members in a growing national multidirectional network.