IASA - Israel Arts and Sciences Academy

The Israel Arts and Sciences Academy (IASA), a boarding school for gifted high-school students situated in Jerusalem’s southern outskirts, combines demanding academic studies with a rich and supportive community life. The school’s academic program is anchored by four learning concentrations, around which the students’ study programs revolve: Science, Visual Arts, Humanities, and Music. Most of IASA’S students live in dormitories on campus, though the school is also open to a small number of local students who commute daily from their homes. IASA was founded in 1990 by the Israeli Center for Excellence through Education in order to provide a learning environment for Israel’s outstanding students, without regard for socio-economic, geographic, or religious considerations: Jews, Muslims, Christians, religious and non-religious, city-, farm-, and village-dwellers—all live and study together within its walls. Our singular admission process enables students from diverse backgrounds to demonstrate their abilities and gain entrance to the school

The IASA way of life is based on a belief that education must foster knowledgeable, critical thinking while promoting individual choices and talents. Out mission is to promote intellectual curiosity and sound thinking while also cultivating inter-personal skills, leadership qualities, and a sense of social responsibility. For this reason, in addition to a rigorous course load, all IASA students are required to perform three years of community service during their high school experience. Our emphasis on both academic and community life has produced exceptional achievements among IASA’s students and graduates and has made IASA into one of the most highly regarded high schools in Israel. Our philosophy and instructional methods have produced an outstanding success rate. Although relatively young, IASA has shown high achievement in a wide range of fields. Our students consistently place first in Israel's national tests, while we hold the highest proportional number of pre-army national-service program participants. Virtually all of our Jewish students go on to serve in the Israeli Armed Forces. Our students consistently produce the highest number of Final Project Research Papers (avodot gemer) in the country. IASA’s remarkable success can be attributed to its highly qualified and dedicated staff, many of whom are prominent figures in their fields, and to out wonderful students, who are talented and tenacious, curious and dedicated to their learning paths. Our goal is that, in their three years with us, each student will make a significant leap in terms of his or her intellectual development and personal maturity.

IASA’s science department brings excellent students together with excellent teachers in order to investigate subjects seriously and uncompromisingly, both from a theoretical perspective as well as through intensive laboratory work. Our carefully designed curriculum revolves around scientific inquiry in which students’ abilities to consider and fully investigate their scientific questions are developed. During their studies, students also learn about the historical, cultural and ethical aspects of the different branches of science. The curriculum is based on a core program comprising a thorough study of the three experimental sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) to which complementary subjects are added, such as computer science and higher mathematics, along with mandatory courses in the ethics and philosophy of science. Students may personalize their study programs by choosing from a wide array of optional courses, including astrophysics, thermodynamics, brain research, quantum theory and oceanography. Independent study is highly encouraged and has resulted in numerous research papers.

The Visual Arts Department is open to students for whom the plastic arts constitute their primary mode of expression. Offering experience and guidance in personal and independent studio work, the study program, constructed in consultation with artists, lecturers and researchers from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, includes classes on drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, and video and digital arts, along with theoretical studies on the history of ancient art, Modernism, and contemporary art. The program’s core revolves around a few principles: • A theoretical study of art must be pursued alongside creative production. • Balance must be found between promoting creativity and innovation, on the one hand, and a focused study within a single discipline in which students acquire the tools for self-expression, on the other. • A continual dialog between students and teachers must be established, the goal of which is to help shape and sharpen individual expression. • Instruction of art should take place within the framework of a broad social-cultural context, with constant awareness and analysis of mutual influences between the artwork and its environment. Studio work is based on the acquisition of technical skills in a range of artistic media, with a gradual transition to independent work with an advisor. The culmination of the students’ study program is an exhibition of their work that is curated by artists and instructors from academic art institutions.

IASA's music department is intended for highly motivated, musically gifted students. The department's rich curriculum, developed by the department's faculty – composers and instrumentalists who are all active musicians and figures in Israel’s classical music scene, focuses primarily on classical music. It is based on the notion of a two-staged music education: the acquisition of knowledge and professional skills, and their practical implementation in the fields of musical performance, composition and research. The department’s program revolves around four central fields of study: the acquisition of knowledge (music history and repertoire from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period); the acquisition of theoretical skills (ear training, harmony, and analysis); creativity (composition and orchestration); and performance. Each of these fields are pursued for one purpose: to enable students to fulfill their unique talents during their time at IASA, and to place them at a respectable starting point for pursuing a professional future in the music world.

IASA’s humanities program is groundbreaking, both in its pedagogical goals and the instructional methods it incorporates. The main objective of the department is to allow enthusiastic and curious students to broaden their humanities education beyond current standards and to acquire a high level of reading and writing skills. These skills and abilities enable our students to feel comfortable within the various humanities disciplines, and give them access, as young scholars, to the world of Western culture. A special program created by our faculty serves as the core of the department's curriculum. Revolving around the axes of multiculturalism, Western culture, and Jewish culture, the program seeks to expose students to the constitutive texts of Western culture, from Homer to Freud, along with foundational texts of the three Western religions— the Tanakh, Mishnah, and Talmud, the New Testimony, and the Quran. Jewish culture receives particular emphasis in the program, and is studied not only in order to deepen students’ knowledge of Jewish history and thought, but for its role in the development of Western culture. A particular goal of the department is to equip students with enough knowledge and skills so that they can become more independent learners. The culmination of their studies is an extensive research paper that each student writes, guided by experts from within the school or the broader academic community.