This week I found out that a total of four students has registered for the two classes I was supposed to teach in spring. Needless to say, they will probably be canceled. Considering that a third Jewish Studies course on the Holocaust has also been closed for lack of registration, I am now wondering if my school is really ready for the Jewish Studies Program we are planning to set up.
If students are not even willing to watch Shoa movies, a topic hugely popular with American teenagers, what chance do my far more pedestrian courses have?
Certainly, a number of factors came together: Because of the recession, my school is implementing minimum requirements for courses, and many, many courses have been canceled to cut costs, especially in the Humanities. But a number of these classes fulfill mandatory requirements, and not everybody can have switched to Accounting, so what is going on?
And yes, as a newcomer, I still have a reputation and an audience to build but this also works in my favor, not enough time to scare off potential students. Our classes are perhaps not yet sufficiently cross-listed, no PR etc. But my main question remains: has my school done its homework? Is it sure that this program is viable?
Or are Jewish Studies so fabulously popular that is simply assumed that the program will fly? And if so, why? Because ethnic studies are so popular? Or to attract Jews and Jewish money, as some have suggested?