Arava Institute Transboundary Faculty Tour

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The Arava Institute Transboundary Faculty Tour through Israel, Palestine and Jordan offers university faculty, researchers, and study abroad professionals immersion in the extraordinary academic community of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. This community, comprised of students, faculty, and alumni from the region and around the world, are committed to the idea that nature knows no borders. The Arava Institute is one of the premier academic and research institutes in the Middle East, preparing young leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s transboundary environmental challenges.

Highlights during this multi-country journey include a dual narratives tour of Jerusalem, observing applied research projects in Bedouin and Palestinian communities, and meeting some of the Arava Institute’s faculty and students who are working together to create transboundary solutions to the region’s toughest environmental challenges.

As part of an extended stay at the Arava Institute, participants will join leading scholars in groundbreaking conversations regarding renewable energy, transboundary water management, sustainable agriculture and development, and socio-ecological research..

Throughout the entirety of the trip, participants will focus on not only the environmental difficulties facing the region, but also the active cooperation being done behind the scenes to build transboundary solutions. Participants will leave with an in-depth understanding of the region’s environmental challenges and solutions informed by a multitude of perspectives.

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Pre-Day: Jerusalem (Tuesday 3/24)
  • All Day – Arrival & Check in
  • Overnight in Jerusalem
DAY ONE: JERUSALEM (Wednesday3/25)
  • Morning – Welcome breakfast & morning briefing followed by Dual Narratives Tour of Old City, led by Arava Institute alumni
  • Afternoon- Independent Exploration of the Old City
  • Evening- Dinner with Arava Institute alumni
  • Overnight in Jerusalem
DAY TWO: THE WEST BANK & Besor River (Thursday 3/26)
  • Morning – Visit to Deir Salah Greywater Treatment and Reuse System (USAID CMM project)
  • Afternoon – Besor River Tour with  Arava Institute researchers; stops includes: Um Batin Bedouin community (tentative)
  • Evening- Meeting with Arava Institute alumni at Sde Boker
  • Overnight in Mitzpe Ramon
DAY THREE: Sde Boker & Mitzpeh Ramon (Friday 3/27)
  •  Morning- Site visit to Integrated Organic Waste Recycling System for Agriculture and Biogas Production project in the unrecognized Bedouin village, near Mitzpe Ramon, followed by tour of Machtesh Ramon tour with Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute’s Academic Director
  • Afternoon – Lunch with Dr. Elli Groner, Arava Institute’s Academic Director
  • Evening – Arrival at Kibbutz Ketura, Optional Sabbath services and dinner with Kibbutz families, followed by  dessert reception at home of David Lehrer, Executive Director of the Arava Institute
  • Overnight in Kibbutz Ketura
DAY FOUR: Arava Institute (Saturday 3/28)
  • All Day- Hiking & tours or day off for Shabbat
  • Overnight- Kibbutz Ketura
DAY FIVE: Arava Institute (Sunday 3/29)
  • Morning- Tours to Arava Institute’s Experimental Orchards and Renewable Energy Park
  • Afternoon – Arava Institute presentations including intern presentations on projects, campus life tour and Arava Institute student panel
  • Evening – American study abroad panel
  • Overnight in Kibbutz Ketura
DAY SIX: arava institute (Monday 3/30)
  • Morning- Peace-building and Environmental Leadership Seminar presentation and discussion, followed by research collaboration forum and rotating private/dedicated meetings with the academic department faculty and staff regarding study abroad opportunities and academic programs
  • Afternoon – Optional public presentations by tour participants to students and faculty
  • Evening – Arava Institute Program Summary & Farewell Dinner
  • Overnight in Kibbutz Ketura
  • Morning – Border crossing
  • Afternoon – Dead Sea: Challenges and Solutions presentations
  • Evening – Closing Dinner with Alumni
  • Overnight in Amman
DAY Eight: Dead Sea (Wednesday 4/1)
  •  Morning- Departure from Amman



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Rabbi Michael Cohen, Tour leader

UnderAcaciaRabbi Michael is a founding faculty member of the Arava Institute. Since 2000, he has divided his time between Vermont and Kibbutz Ketura, Israel. He has written extensively about the environment and the Middle East peace process in North American and Middle Eastern publications and is the author of Einstein’s Rabbi: A Tale of Science and the Soul. Rabbi Michael is currently a faculty member at Bennington College, where he teaches courses on conflict resolution.

Rabbi Michael is a long time environmental activist who, while in high school, co-founded the first recycling center in Ewing, New Jersey in 1976. He graduated, with a B.A. in History, from the University of Vermont, where he also received the Paul Evans History Award for his honors paper on “Lenin’s Theory of Self-Determination and the Muslims of the Soviet Union.” In 1990 he graduated from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and become the first full-time rabbi of the Israel Congregation in Manchester Center, Vermont.

David Fisher, Program Manager

Fisher_Headshot copyA 2011 alumnus of the Arava Institute, David’s experience there was key to his academic and career pursuits. He is committed to environmental stewardship, interfaith cooperation, and cooperative living. In the three years after his semester at the Arava Institute, David founded and directed Interfaith Appalachia, bringing together politically and religiously diverse groups for community development in eastern Kentucky. He is a 2012 graduate of Oberlin College, with dual majors in environmental studies and Jewish studies. He has earned the Udall Scholarship, Davis Projects for Peace Award, and Dalai Lama Fellowship. As the Community Outreach Manager with Friends of the Arava Institute, he is helping to build a network of strategic partnerships to elevate the profile of the Arava Institute in America, while also coordinating North American student recruitment.

David brings an extensive knowledge of the Arava Institute’s academic program to the trip and is eager to work with both faculty members and study abroad professionals to facilitate further partnership between American universities and the Arava Institute.


[toggle title=”Frequently Asked Questions”]

  • Q: Where will we be staying?
  • A: All Accommodation will be three star hotels or above with private baths
  • Q:What do we need to bring with us?
  • A: We suggest packing lightly and bringing sturdy walking shoes and a sun hat. Jeans and casual slacks will be fine for our meetings and presentations. Evenings can get cool, so you may consider bringing a light jacket or sweater. Women are encouraged to bring a scarf or light covering for bare shoulders or arms when we are in rural communities. Women are not required to cover their heads.
  • Q: Are meals included and what types of meals are provided?
  • A: Three meals a day are provided as part of the cost of the tour. Meals in Israel will be Kosher, and all meals in Jordan or Palestine will be Hallal. Vegetarian options will be available at all meals.
  • Q: Can you accommodate a special diet?
  • A: Please contact us if you have special dietary needs or restrictions.
  • Q: We are interested in additional touring before and after the program, can you assist us?
  • A: Yes, the Faculty Tour has a number of add on packages that can be arranged. Please contact David Fisher, Community Outreach Manager at 617-266-7100
  • Q: Is it safe to travel in these areas?
  • A: The Arava Institute staff and its partners have years of experience running tours and field programs for students and VIPs. They thoroughly understand the security issues and will adjust the itinerary as needed should any concerns arise.
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • The registration fee is nonrefundable except in the case of cancellation due to security concerns.

To download these ‘FAQ’s Please Click Here!


[toggle title=”Pricing Guidelines”]

The cost 2015 Transboundary Faculty Tour is $2,600, however an early registration discounted cost of $2,100 is available to all participants who register prior to December 15th.  This includes:

  • 8 hotel nights
  • 3 meals per day during the travel period
  • All transport via bus
  • The educational program with Arava Institute faculty, alumni, guest speakers and professional tour guides

The tour price does not include:

  • Flights to and from Israel
  • Ground transportation beyond the dates of the program
  • Transportation to the start of the program or at the end of the program
  • Alcoholic beverages and snacks
  • Tips
  • Before and after hotels and meals
  • Personal travel and/or trip cancellation or medical insurance

Payment Schedule:

  • A deposit of $500 is due at the time of registration. This is nonrefundable except in the case of cancellation due to security concerns
  • The balance of $2,100 is due by February 1st 2015
  • If you register after February 1st 2015, full payment is due at time of registration
  • To make a payment please click here


[toggle title=”Registration & Contact Information”]

Registration for the 2015 Transboundary Faculty Tour is OPEN! To register, or if you have any questions please contact David Fisher,  Friends of the Arava Institute, Community Outreach Manager at (617) 266-7100


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