Semester or Yearlong Program
The Arava Institute offers an accredited university-level semester or yearlong program for both undergraduate and graduate students. Take courses in diverse environmental fields, engage in peace-building and environmental leadership seminars, and partake in educational field trips — all with a diverse student population hailing from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and beyond.
Students at the Arava Institute explore a range of environmental issues from an exceptional transboundary and interdisciplinary perspective. Under the guidance of leading environmental professionals and academics, students take between four to five courses in both the natural and social environmental sciences. Courses focus on the areas of water management, renewable energy, ecology, sustainable agriculture, environmental politics, and more. Students can also pursue an independent research project in the framework of a 3-credit elective independent study course. All courses are taught in English.
Concepts from the classroom are brought to life in a real-world context through applied learning opportunities and transboundary field trips. During field trips, students meet with experts on regional environmental issues and conflict resolution, hear from local stakeholders, and visit historic sites.
PEACE-BUILDING AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP SEMINARS
In line with the Arava Institute’s mission to generate capacity building for conciliation, cooperation, and environmental change, all students participate in a weekly Peace-building Leadership Seminar and an Environmental Leadership Seminar. In these seminars students engage in dialogue exploring issues of culture, religion, identity, environmental activism, and the current political situation, while developing competencies in intercultural understanding, empathy, and environmental leadership.
DIVERSITY + MULTICULTURALISM
The Arava Institute offers students an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to immerse themselves in a cross-cultural environment with others who are equally passionate about building a more sustainable future. Together, our students and interns are comprised of approximately one third Jewish Israeli; one third Arab, including Palestinians from the West Bank, Jordanians, and Arab citizens of Israel; and one third international students, primarily from North America. No other program in the Middle East brings together students from such varied political, cultural, and religious backgrounds to live, study, and learn from one another for a semester or a full academic year. In this multicultural setting, students form personal connections and develop skills that enable them to lead their communities to address today’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The Arava Institute’s academic programs are accredited by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Each course is three academic credits and at the end of each semester, students receive an official transcript from BGU.
Interview with Eliana Salemeh, Alumna Spring '14
PROGRAM YEAR: ALUMNA SPRING ‘14
UNIVERSITY: UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY (USA) & BEN‑GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV (ISRAEL)
Why did you decide to study at the Arava Institute?
I decided to study at the Arava Institute because I wanted to be part of a change. When I read the ad about the Arava Institute, I was instantly curious because it is truly a unique place. It’s not always you hear about Palestinians, Jordanians and Israelis coming to live together under the same roof and working on finding solutions about the environmental issues that are affecting the region. Also, I was interested to know more on how to implement the slogan “Nature Knows No Borders” in real life, I found it really inspirational and I wanted to learn about how to become an environmental leader; raising awareness about protecting nature and the possibility for coexistence and peace in the Middle East.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE.
I really enjoyed all the courses that I took at the Arava Institute. The courses not only helped me improve my knowledge on current affairs but it has made me interested in what is happening in the region regarding current environmental challenges.
HOW DID THE FIELD TRIPS IMPACT YOUR LEARNING?
The field trips really affected my learning and truly stimulated me to work harder on finding solutions to current environmental problems. The field trips provided me with great experiences where everything that I learned in class, I was able to see in real-life. This made the classes memorable and inspirational.
WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DID YOU HAVE WITH YOUR PROFESSORS?
My professors were very approachable and easy to talk to. They showed genuine care and really put a lot of effort to make the classes interesting. They were available to help with anything all the time and I felt that they were more like my friends rather than just my teachers.
HOW DID PARTICIPATION FROM YOUR DIVERSE SET OF CLASSMATES IMPACT YOUR LEARNING?
The different backgrounds of the students greatly improved my learning during my study at the Arava Institute. I gained more insights about other cultures, perspectives, and viewpoints. This made me realize that the only way for us to work hand by hand is to understand each other’s side. And from this, we were able to build bridges of trust and respect across cultures and borders.
HAVE YOU APPLIED WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED HERE SINCE YOU LEFT THE INSTITUTE?
The Arava Institute was a life changing experience; I changed my career path and enrolled at Ben‑Gurion University to pursue a masters degree in hydrology and water quality. I have a new born passion to increase awareness especially in my local community about water scarcity issues and be part of the research for new technologies to conserve and protect our limited water resources.
HOW HAS YOUR ACADEMIC LEARNING AT THE ARAVA INSTITUTE HELPED YOU PERSONALLY, PROFESSIONALLY, AND ACADEMICALLY?
Being a student at the Arava Institute opened the doors for me to pursue a second advanced degree. I met students and professors from diverse backgrounds; it was a great networking experience through which I made lasting friendships and professional connections.
What advice would you give to a student considering studying at the Arava Institute?
Do you ask yourself, ‘What can one individual do to protect the environment and make a change?’ I say that the answer for this question is simple and it is to apply to the program. At the Arava Institute change is not a question, change is the way of life.