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Director’s Blog: June 2015

The end of the spring semester is always a time for reflection of the past few months and the past year.  This academic year began in the wake of the Gaza War last summer which impacted registration, particularly of Palestinian and Jordanian students.  The 2014 Fall Semester was smaller then expected but still maintained the balance of Middle Easterners and students from around the world. The students and staff utilized the more intimate program to build strong bonds and to explore the complicated relations between people’s in the region through the Peace Building and Environmental Leadership Seminar (PELS) and especially the fall trip to Jerusalem during a time of heightened tensions in the Holy City.  The 2015 Spring Semester’s numbers bounced back with 45 students and interns including a very strong contingent of South Americans!  The semester challenged the students academically, politically, and socially.  One of the highlights of the semester was the 10th annual Alumni Conference held at the end of May in Givat Haviva, northern Israel. Current students had the opportunity to meet and mingle with Arava Institute alumni and to be inspired by the next steps the Institute’s graduates have taken towards fulfilling our vision of a more sustainable and peaceful Middle East. It was sad to say goodbye to Spring Semester students but we are looking forward to welcoming the 2015 Fall Semester students and the beginning of our 20th year at the Arava Institute.

David Lehrer

 

AIES Night – Spring 2015 Semester

natasha-aiesnightAIES Night, the highlight of the academic program, was once again a great success. This event gives the students the opportunity to present their independent study projects to the staff, faculty, interns, and students of the Institute, as well as interested members of the local community. This semester’s presentations covered a variety of both social and natural science topics, from a comparison of “Water Pricing Policies in Israel and Jordan” to a study of the impact of the water table on the germination and growth of sorghum, as well as a stakeholder’s analysis of the Islamic State. Many thanks to the faculty and supervisors of the projects, who provided much needed guidance and support to students during their research!

Submitted by Lex Paul

 

Up, Up, and Away: The end of Spring Semester 2015

Directors BlogThe Spring Semester 2015 came to a powerful finish as students, interns and staff gathered for their end of Semester superhero-themed party. Students received awards for participation and involvement over the course of the semester. Everyone enjoyed great performances and goodbye moments prepared by students, and a slideshow of the whole semester.  When all was said and done, everyone jumped into the pool for a big splashdown! With good food, good drink, and great people, it was a fitting end for the semester.  Later in the week, the academic program was summarized in the Grossman Student Lounge. The students had a chance to reflect on the different classes they took, as well as their personal growth through their presentations. Students placed themselves on a life-size graph according to what their expectations were at the beginning of the semester and where they found themselves at the end in relation to community living, academia, political action, and ecological involvement. After this activity, students had a chance to reflect on the semester as a whole as they designed their own program. Breaking down the semester into a one-week block, students and interns presented their view of the importance of the interdisciplinary aspect of the Institute, as well as an analysis of balancing their heavy course load, campus life and activities, extra-curricular work, and social life.

Submitted by Lex Paul

 

CTWM team attends Trans-boundary Water Resources Conference at Hebrew University

On June 22nd-23rd, Dr. Clive Lipchin of the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management (CTWM), along with CTWM interns Karen Bialostozky, Karine David, and Gerardo Tremont, participated in the “Management of Trans-boundary Water Resources Under Scarcity” conference at the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Rehovot, Israel. Dr. Lipchin also presented his study “A Watershed-based Approach to Mitigating Trans-boundary Wastewater Conflicts between Israel and the Palestinian Authority”. The conference had a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, including speakers from Israel, Jordan, Europe, Asia, and the United States, looking at a variety of relevant issues through the lenses of engineering, economy, law, international relations, and other fields.  In addition, the conference helped to strengthen CTWM’s bonds with NGO’s and institutions working in similar fields that have the potential to help improve the department’s mission in the future.

Submitted by Clive Lipchin and Gerardo Tremont

 

European Union Trans-Basin Research Meeting in Portugal

portugalFour Arava Institute staff members were recently invited to Portugal as part of the EU sponsored International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES). Dr. Clive Lipchin, Shira Kronich, Uri Nusinow and Dr. Elli Groner attended a meeting of the Trans-Basin – Trans-boundary Water Basin Management project hosted by Dr. Cristina Branquinho of the Center of Environmental Biology at the University of Lisbon. The purpose of Trans-Basin is to develop a comparative assessment of trans-boundary water management in the Guadiana river basin shared by Spain and Portugal and the Jordan River system shared by Israel, Jordan, and Palestine. Dr. Elli Groner was the key speaker at the symposium, examining the concept of “ecosystem services”, including Dr. Groner’s recent research on ecological integrity. Participants expressed so much interest in ecosystem services that it was decided to submit the next joint research proposal on this topic. The highlight of the trip was a site visit to the Alqueva dam in southern Portugal, the largest reservoir in Europe used for irrigation.

Submitted by Elli Groner and Clive Lipchin

 

Arava Internship Program Summer 2015

June InternsThis summer our team welcomes four new participants to our internship program who join five experienced interns continuing from previous semesters. The institute is pleased to introduce the new faces on campus.

Jacob Cutler is a sophomore at Dartmouth College who will be an intern for the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management (CTWM). At a prior internship at the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington D.C., Jacob observed and analyzed differing Arabic media sources and their perceptions of Israel and the United States. He is interested in the impact and alterations of water management on these perceptions.

Meghan Siritzy is working towards a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in environmental science at Barnard College in New York City. Meghan has worked for the environmental lobbying firm Van Heuvelen Strategies, and New Story Leadership for the Middle East in Washington, DC aimed at facilitating dialogue between young Israeli and Palestinian leaders. She is currently interning in the Center for Hyper-Arid Socio-Ecology (CHASE) under the supervision of Dr. Elli Groner.

Hanna Berkooz, also a CHASE intern, is studying environmental science at Beloit College. As the recipient of the Beloit College Field Experience Grant, Hanna will be testing soil samples and monitoring acacia trees with her supervisor, Dr. Groner. Hanna is a competitive cyclist and is very interested in insects and their interaction with the environment.

Karine David is finishing her master’s degree in integrated water resources management at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She is currently studying the increase of irrigation on date palm plantations in the Jordan Valley, as part of the research with her supervisor, Dr. Clive Lipchin, of the Center for Trans-boundary Water Management.

Submitted by Cathie Granit

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