Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, the Mae and Benjamin Swig Professor in Jewish Studies and the founding Director of the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, has been at USF since 2007. An educator for more than two decades, his primary academic interest is the intersection between identity formation, social justice, and marginalized groups.
Aaron completed his Ph.D. in the Religious Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied the History of Religions, the Sociology of Religions, Nonviolence and Religions, Politics and Religions, and Modern Islamic Movements. His dissertation focused on the relationship between power, the sociopolitical context of Israel and Palestine, and Jewish and Islamic religious law (halachah and shari’a, respectively). He also received an MTS from Harvard Divinity School, where he focused on World Religions, and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in Psychology.
In 2003 he founded Abraham’s Vision, a conflict transformation organization that ran educational programs within and between the Muslim, Jewish, Palestinian, and Israeli communities, for whom he served as Co-Executive Director through May 2013. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the Center for Transformative Education, an educational initiative aiming to create empowering educational programs to transform societies into their potential, which he co-founded in 2008.
Aaron has lived and studied abroad in a number of places, including Bir Zeit, Cairo, Fes, the Hague, and Jerusalem. Academically fluent in multiple dialects of Hebrew and Arabic, he has received numerous awards and fellowships for his work. In June 2016, Aaron published Judaisms: A Twenty-First-Century Introduction to Jews and Jewish Identities with the University of California Press, and in July 2019, along with his co-editor, Mira Sucharov, he came out with the volume, Social Justice and Israel/Palestine: Foundational and Contemporary Debates, published through the University of Toronto Press.
During the 2013-14 academic year, Aaron was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Australia, where he traveled around the country conducting research on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (sometimes referred to as the “First Peoples” of Australia) have received former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s political apology, delivered in February 2008, in light of the realpolitik of these communities.
He is currently writing a book on this research, comparing the situation of Australia’s First Peoples with that of Native Americans.
He lives in Northern California with his partner, two children, and two cats, Bu and Lamington Sparkle. He credits his travels through the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa for his passion for the study of religion.