The Center for the Study of Multiculturalism & Diversity:
Old Problems, New Solutions
By employing behavioral economics to decipher Israel's divisive multicultural challenges — and then harnessing the findings to develop evidence-based law and policy — scholars seek to increase social cooperation and cohesion.
Israel is a mosaic of groups and cultures whose diverse, often-conflicting worldviews result in deep social fragmentation. Despite the imperative to mitigate these schisms, progress is slow and the divisions are intensifying. Ultra-Orthodox society, for instance, is less integrated into the workforce and less math and history is taught at its schools than in the past. Meanwhile, gun violence is plaguing Arab society and the authorities have failed to secure the requisite trust and cooperation to end the crisis. While behavioral law and policy studies have impacted many fields, hardly any behaviorally-informed, evidence-based plans exist to help government tackle the challenges of Israel’s multicultural makeup.
The Center for the Study of Multiculturalism & Diversity (CSMD) is the first academic body in Israel and the world to harness behavioral science to focus on the multifaceted challenges of multiculturalism. Building on decades of research and on the Hebrew University’s status as a global leader in behavioral science and empirical legal studies, its researchers are working to develop — and bring to lawmakers, government, and regulators — innovative policies that promise to bring down the barriers preventing social integration.
Evidence-Based Regulation for Better Social Integration
Democratic societies around the world face the challenge of bolstering social integration amid numerous cultural and ethnic differences. Too often the adopted policies fail. Effective policy depends on studying the decision-making processes of cultural groups regarding integration. It is only by uncovering and delineating the cognitive, behavioral, and structural barriers for cooperation — alongside the accelerators for integration — that sound policy can be developed. Lawmakers need solid knowledge to make informed, evidence-based decisions on the best ways to govern a diversity of cultures, while ensuring a balance with cultural interests and civil rights. Yet little such research is available today to help government in Israel address the state’s key multicultural challenges, namely universal participation in the workforce; mobility and equal opportunities for women and minorities; ade-quate education for all children; and resolving divisive religion-state disputes.
The Center for Multiculturalism and Diversity works to create better policy for Israel by publishing rigorously researched policy papers; by sharing the findings of behavioral multicultural research with legislators and regulators; and by inculcating intercultural, interfaith sensitivities in future generations of Israeli leaders and regulators through its teaching activities and its student Clinic.
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