Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Professor Chamovitz with a reservist faculty member.

President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Prof. Daniel A. Chamovitz on Tuesday released a new position paper titled, “Rising to the Negev’s Need: Expanding the Role of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel’s Post-War Reality,” in which he unveils a multifaceted action plan for amplifying the University’s role as a growth engine for Israel’s South in the aftermath of October 7, 2023, and articulates the University’s “expansion of our spheres of influence, and a willingness to take radical responsibility for the Negev’s health and prosperity.”

BGU’s community has been disproportionately impacted by the October 7 atrocities compared to other universities in Israel, in terms of the number of students, faculty, and staff who were killed, wounded, kidnapped, and called to reserve duty with the Israel Defense Forces. Yet given its role as the largest employer in the region and the key to the economic vitality of southern Israel, the University is simultaneously rising to the challenges of this moment and is ready to play a pivotal role in rebuilding the Negev. Long a beacon of academic and research excellence, BGU’s new directive centers around leading the healing process for the South and shaping the region’s long-term future.


“In the wake of October 7, we are called to yet another challenge: transforming the Negev into not only a scientific engine but also a resilient society,” Prof. Chamovitz writes in his position paper.

The campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. / Courtesy of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

As the nexus between government, industry, and civil society, BGU will anchor a regional ecosystem that enhances education, discovery, and innovation and extends their benefits throughout the Negev, according to Prof. Chamovitz’s blueprint.

In advancing a rededication of its mission, the University will align its actions with the following strategies: Engaging faculty and students in local solutions, emphasizing data and evidence-based decision-making, enhancing its brand, and building on its strengths in ways that contribute to further growth and ability for impact, and matching key institutional resources with the Negev’s needs and opportunities, creating alliances that represent and empower all of the Negev’s communities, and leveraging strategic partnerships for the Negev’s development.

Prof. Chamovitz proposes a wide array of strategies for helping to develop a thriving post-war Negev through the University, including:

  • · Economic development, innovation, and entrepreneurship: Helping faculty across departments adapt their curricula to include the acquisition of entrepreneurial thinking and skills; incorporating real-world practice into relevant degree programs through credit-bearing internships in local industry; creating an industry placement center to facilitate newcomers and graduates’ entry into Beer- Sheva’s tech companies; expanding the mechanisms for knowledge exchange between BGU and local industry; establishing youth programs in entrepreneurship in collaboration with Negev schools; incentivizing companies’ relocation to Beer-Sheva.
  • Social embeddedness and empowerment: Incorporating more service components and real-world training into degree programs; establishing a social laboratory for designing services and spaces that answer community needs; establishing a community clinic that combines applied research and community outreach toward the goal of breaking Negev families’ cycle of poverty; improving preparedness and emergency-medicine services throughout the Negev; establishing a digital-training and data-analysis program for Negev mayors and municipal authorities.
  • Research and global solutions: Accelerating efforts to establish a new Faculty of Computing and a new Institute of Artificial Intelligence; strengthening BGU’s Goldman-Sonnenfeldt School of Sustainability and Climate Change as well as its Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research; ramping up efforts to establish a Center for Sea Technology.
  • Education, access, and equity: Providing scholarships for combat and non-combat veterans of Operation Swords of Iron above those provided by the government; considering a package modeled on America’s Dependent G.I. Bill, entailing scholarships for surviving spouses and children of IDF soldiers and reservists who fell in Operation Swords of Iron; expand continuing education and non-degree programs, with an emphasis on skills required in the Negev’s workforce; establishing an experimental elementary school for children from the Negev.
BGU’s Advanced Technologies Park, part of the ecosystem of innovation that BGU is spearheading in Beer-Sheva. / Courtesy of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

In pursuing this ambitious plan of action, Prof. Chamovitz explains that BGU is transforming into Israel’s first “Fifth Wave” university — a paradigm established in America in which higher education institutions view themselves as evolving platforms for effecting large-scale, systemic change, measuring their success based on social outcomes in the regions where they are based. He writes that “by using their regions’ advancement as institutional North stars, these universities both inspire and participate in the results that their societies — and the world — need.”

“David Ben-Gurion once said that ‘the fate of Israel depends on two things: its strength and its righteousness.’ As our finest soldiers express our strength on the battlefield, we at BGU can seize this pivotal moment to express our strength through our work for the Negev and Israel,” Prof. Chamovitz concludes.


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