History & Mission

History of Academic Programs

The Arava Institute was founded in 1996 in the wake of the Oslo agreements as an academic and research center for environmental leadership in the Middle East. The initial Arava Program, a two semester academic program, offered undergraduate or graduate credit through the Overseas Study Program of Tel Aviv University. Today, the Arava Program is in partnership with Ben Gurion University. The Arava Institute began its Masters track with Ben Gurion University in 2002 in order to give students the opportunity to study at two leading environmental institutions and build upon the skills they developed at the Arava Institute. In 2012, AIES launched a Minor in Environmental Studies through Ben-Gurion University. This one-year program is available for Israeli undergraduates and can be combined with a major in humanities to complete their undergraduate degree.

History of Arava Institute Research Departments

The Arava Institute established its first two research programs in 2001. One of these, the Biodiversity program, was headed by Dr. Uri Shanas as a joint Israeli – Jordanian research program designed to study the biodiversity of the Arava Valley and the impact of human settlement on the ecosystem on both sides of the border. The other research center, focusing on Sustainable Agriculture, was led by Dr. Elaine Solowey, who had been studying desert crops and trees since the early 1980’s. In 2008, the Institute expanded these research departments into four research concentrations: Renewable Energy, Sustainable Agriculture, Transboundary Water Management, and Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research in order to focus on the specific areas of study in which the Institute’s staff had expertise and experience. In 2010, the Institute established the Arava Center for Sustainable Development as its outreach arm providing research, training and extension services to the developing world. Read more about the Arava Institute’s research centers

History of Arava Institute Alumni Programs

The Arava Alumni Programs Department was established in 2004 to build capacity for cooperative alumni initiatives, engage alumni through outreach programs, and enhance Jewish-Arab networking in the Middle East. In 2005, the Alumni Programs Department launched the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN). In 2013, the North American alumni launched the North American Arava Alumni Network (NAAAN) to empower North American alumni of the Arava Institute to be community ambassadors and advocates of the Arava Institute.

Mission Statement

Our mission is To advance cross-border environmental cooperation in the face of political conflict.

This is to ensure that:

  • The shared environmental resources of the region will be protected from further degradation and loss.
  • Scarce environmental resources will no longer be a source of conflict.
  • Environmental cooperation will become a model for cross-border cooperation in all other areas of the conflict.