Semester Course List

For a full list of course descriptions, click here.


Please scroll down for information on Spring 2017 courses. This list is still being updated.

Spring 2017

Basics of Organic Food Production

Taught by Dr. Elaine Solowey

This course presents information about small-scale organic food production, its potential and its problems. Students will also explore the social and economic aspects of producing one’s own organic food and engage students in practicing soil enrichment techniques, composting, container gardening and keeping small livestock as well as seed saving, food storage, food preparation, slow food movements and the active preservation of heirloom fruits vegetables and animal breeds.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Critical Social Sustainability

Taught by Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman

Sustainability, it seems, is everywhere—in activism, ecology, popular culture, and industry. In the face of economic and environmental crisis, and unprecedented rates of urbanization, the term has become omnipresent and at times overused across various social arenas and in policy circles. This is perhaps an indication to a deep shared desire for a sustainable future. But the increasing popularity of the term presents us with competing and at times contradictory meanings and application of the term that poses challenges for sustainability scholarship and practice.

This course looks at sustainability and its arguably contradictory win-win goals of economic growth, environmental integrity, and social equity, from perspectives developed in human, critical & urban political geography. The course is organized in roughly three parts:

Click here to download the syllabus.

Directed Research and Independent Study in the Environment

Taught by Dr. Jawad Shoqier and Dr. Dan Tamir

This seminar provides a framework for students interested in pursuing an independent research project while enrolled in the undergraduate program. Students are matched up with an academic advisor from the Arava Institute or elsewhere in the region whom they meet with on a weekly basis. Research should centered around work that can only be done in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, or Jordan, such as working with particular communities or dealing with a region-specific issue. All types of research are possible, whether they are scientifically or sociologically based. The seminar can also act as a support for research the student is currently undertaking at their home university. All students are required to write a research proposal, give an oral presentation at the end of the semester and write a final research paper.

It is expected that students undertaking the seminar have some prior experience in conducting research. Framework includes support in research design, research writing and presentation of results.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Ecology of the Arava

Taught by Dr. Elli Groner

This course will present an overview of the ecology of the Arava Desert. In this course, basic principals of ecology and then desert ecology will be introduced. Student will learn about desert food webs, interaction between ecosystems, pollution and other risks to the conservation of the Arava. We will study the link between the Arava ecosystems. We will study plants, arthropods, mammals and birds of the terrestrial ecosystem and the principles and wildlife of the sea. While learning about different ecosystem and taxon we will study the anthropogenic impact on wildlife.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Environmental Leadership Seminar

Facilitated by Rina Kedem

In the Environmental Leadership Seminar (EL), students and interns explore environmental leadership from a unique regional perspective and in the context of their own multicultural campus community. EL introduces environmental leadership through a range of sessions and workshops held over each semester. While working together as a community and in small groups, participants explore a wide range of topics including environmental entrepreneurship, project management, holistic models for environmental living, and environmental policy and politics. In addition, each semester, EL welcomes guest speakers who bring a wealth of knowledge about current environmental initiatives.

Environmental Science

Taught by Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed

This course is designed to give an overview of environmental science, focusing on global environmental issues. The course will look at past and present environmental issues and the chemical and physical tools that assist in the study of the environment. The course will cover air pollution, the water cycle and environmental issues associated with water, hazardous substances, global warming, ozone depletion and acid rain. Each student will choose a specific topic to research and present to the class. There will be one field trip associated with the class.

Hebrew for students on the MASA program

Taught by Tal Holzman

In this course we will learn the basics of the Hebrew language; the Hebrew alphabet, reading, writing, conversation vocabulary, useful expressions, slang and more. Class time will be used mainly to develop verbal communication skills in a present form. During the semester (according to the class level) we’ll start learning past form.

We will explore aspects of the Jewish culture; holidays, customs, and heritage. In addition we will get a taste of the Israeli folklore through music, art, humor, slang, food…

This course is intended for MASA students, but other students may be able to participate on a case by case basis. Language learning is strongly encouraged generally among students outside of the classroom.

Introduction to Earth Science

Taught by Dr. Yaron Finzi

This course will include introduction to Earth Sciences – Geology, Geomorphology, and Climatology. The courses include exploring the connections between earth systems (Geosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere, and Biosphere) and the different aspects associated with the natural history of the Arava Valley. The course will include two daylong field trips.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Introduction to Political Ecology - Case Studies from the Middle East

Taught by Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman

Political ecology, generally defined, examines the politics, in the broadest sense of the word, of the environment. This course traces the origins and current formulations of political ecology as an approach to studying environmental change/degradation and the relations between society and the environment in general; but it also evaluates the power of political ecology to explain and analyze historical and current conflicts and processes involving Israelis, Palestinians, and others in the Middle East.

The course provides first the theoretical roots and the intellectual development of political ecology over the last several decades testing them as a framework to environmental changes and processes around the world. We will look at the social and historical forces and relations that shape resources access, the political structures that mediate control over land and property, and the consequences and legacies of colonialism, empires, and uneven development. Using a combination of case studies and theoretical works, we will explore a range of environmental issues including: desertification, water, energy, scarcity, parks and protected areas, and environmental movements. We will follow case studies and research projects from the Middle East, and in particular within Israel and the Palestine, but also from other parts of the world. The course provides analytical tools and critical thinking skills. The goal would be first, to be able to use the framework of political ecology to analyze the complex relationships between ecological and social change that underlie contemporary environmental problems around the globe; second, to evaluate and criticize other popular understandings of the environment, and thirdly, to gain a unique and useful but overlooked perspective on Middle East politics, and on regional and local ethnic and civic conflicts, and violence. We will sample key texts in political ecology literature dealing with environmental change; political economy of resources, identity, social movements, ethnicity, nationalism, and development; we will also evaluate academic and popular writings on the Middle East from a political ecology perspective.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Introduction to Solid Waste

Taught by Dr. Jawad Shoqeir

Due to industrial revolution, technology development and consumption patterns of the people, huge quantities of different types of solid wastes are produced every day, creating an alarming problem of their disposal. It is now recognized that proactive management is required to deal with this problem. Thus, solid waste management involves management of activities associated with generation, storage, collection, transfer and transport, reuse and recycling, processing and disposal which should be environmentally compatible, adopting to the principles of economy, aesthetics, and energy conservation. The course will address these aspects.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Peace-Building Leadership Seminar*

Facilitated by Kate Cohen

In line with the Arava Institute’s mission to generate capacity-building for conciliation and cooperation, all students and interns participate in a weekly Peace-building Leadership Seminar (PLS). In this seminar, students engage in dialogue exploring issues of culture, religion, identity, coexistence, and the current political situation, while developing competencies in intercultural understanding and empathy.

PLS builds on the conviction that the social and political relationships within and between groups in the region have a significant influence on environmental practices, public policies, and grassroots environmental activism. PLS takes advantage of the Arava Institute’s own community as a microcosm of the region, building the tools and understanding necessary to foster environmental sustainability, social justice, and respect in the broader society. Every student, no matter the country of origin, has the opportunity to contribute significantly to this ongoing dialogue.

PLS sessions take place weekly throughout the academic year, with each session addressing different aspects of the program’s learning objectives. PLS group activities and one-on-one discussion groups contribute to students’ developing a repertoire of respectful and consensus-building interactions. In addition, each semester, PLS welcomes guest speakers who bring a wealth of knowledge about current coexistence initiatives.


Water Resources in the Middle East*

Taught by Dr. Clive Lipchin
This is a compulsory course during spring semester that introduces the major issues engaging efficient water management in the Middle East. The goal of the course is to provide students with an overview of the challenges facing policy makers and water experts in effectively managing these resources and negotiating over their equitable allocation.

As water scarcity is a reality in the region, it is critical to explore the ways and means for sustainable management of this resource in the face of growing demand and dwindling supply and the associated regional plans for water allocation among the countries of the region. By concentrating on the Jordan River Basin and associated groundwater resources students learn how these waters are managed and shared. Although the basin is shared by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, the course will focus on the first three riparians. The course will include a field trip covering the Jordan River Watershed. A guest lecturer from the Palestinian Authority and a guest lecturer from Jordan will participate in the course.

Click here to download the syllabus.



* Courses are required


Note: these courses are subject to change.