Semester Course List

Students take a course load of 4-5 academic courses per semester. Courses focus on the areas of water management, renewable energy, ecology, sustainable agriculture, environmental politics, and more. Courses are offered at an undergraduate level, with some graduate courses available. Each course is for 3 academic credits.

*All details are subject to change.

Spring 2024

This course introduces the concept of agroecology, how ecological understanding can be applied to agricultural systems and how this can lead to new management approaches. The students will discover the differences between agribusiness and agroecology and how the principles of agroecology can be applied to small scale and big scale farms. The course includes 2 field trips and hands on sessions in which the students will use the learned information to improve habitat for service agents.

Each week consists of 3 hours, which include lectures, student’s oral presentations, discussions, short projects in teamwork, presentation of teamwork. The course includes three field trips including hands on lessons. Students will be asked to submit a short report for each of the field trips, do teamwork assignments that will be presented to the class, and present and answer a few questions regarding chosen publications.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Tali Zohar 

Modern society relies on stable, readily available energy supplies. Renewable energy is an increasingly important component of the new energy mix. The course covers history, utilization and storage for renewable technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, fuel cells and hybrid systems. The course also touches upon the social, cultural, and environmental consequences of energy production and consumption, both renewable and fossil, the impact on climate change and the transition towards a sustainable society.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Elli Groner and Prof. Uri Shanas

Biodiversity The aim of this course is to provide the students with a hands-on experience in studying biodiversity. The world-wide sharp decline in biodiversity is a human made crisis that ecologists are trying to solve. Some of the important questions are “What and how many species exist?”; “How do we evaluate the abundance and the richness of species?”; Why is biodiversity so important? “How do we set priority regions for conservation based on biodiversity?” Sand dunes Sand dunes are especially vulnerable and their biodiversity is under extinction processes. We will learn about the ecosystem changes of sand dunes including natural and anthropogenic processes. We will also learn about the development threats to the dunes and the politics behind it. These questions and others will be dealt with before, during and after sampling several taxonomic groups on sand dunes. Requirements: The students will be required to be able to asses the species turnover between habitats at where they will compare one of the largest conservation problems: the mining of dunes The students in this course will take part in a long-term monitoring research of the sand dunes. In Samar Dunes they will take part in a long term monitoring by the Arava institute together with Haifa University. The course is composed of four introduction lessons of 1.5 hours as preparations and then a 4 day field trip to the Samar sand dunes in Arava area (returning to Ketura every day). Then there will be one lesson with an explanation of how to write the paper. At the end of the trip the students will be required to write a paper comparing dunes at different locations. Project can be on reptiles, rodents, insects and plants (depending on the seasonality). 

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman

Due to its social and ecological complexity, and its temporal and spatial grand scales, thinking about and acting upon Climate Change is a daunting task. In this class, we examine the possible contribution of Political Ecology as a theoretical and practical framework to understand and think about climate change and the Anthropocene more broadly.

Political ecologists have long recognized that environmental degradation can’t be understood as a simple objective problem—e.g., “there are just too many people,” or “we just need cleaner and more efficient production or disposal technologies.” They have identified the need to interrogate relationships, connections, and the complexity of social -ecological systems. On the one hand, Political Ecology investigates “realities” of climate change — how societies (economy, institutions, power, discourses, practices) produce biophysical transformations in the first place and how human transformation of the planet exacerbates inequalities. But it also aspires to show how concepts, words, and metaphors of human- environment relationships travel. Where they come from, what they do in terms of guiding our thinking, how they produce knowledge and become politicized, or, equally important in regard to climate change, de-politicized.

In this class we will examine how social scientists have adopted and/or interrogated a number of concepts and keywords relating to contemporary global environmental change. Together, these keywords form a climate change vocabulary. Among these concepts, the recent explosion of critical social science literature on “the Anthropocene” is the most prominent example of cross-disciplinary borrowing; further concepts such as resilience, adaptation, vulnerability, and mitigation are more recent keywords in the lexicons of environmental politics and cognate fields. Our goal, in this class then, is to compose a set of “Keywords” for the Anthropocene. A shared vocabulary of words and meaning delineating and contextualizing concepts relevant to our own worlds and work.

The course is oriented around three questions:

  1. How have critical social sciences and political ecology in particular, deepened and complicated biophysically based understandings of climate change terms and concepts?
  2. How might discussions in the social sciences and environmental humanities benefit from engaging more carefully with the biophysical specifics of these concepts?
  3. What does acknowledging the Anthropocene from a political ecology perspective, mean for the practice of both social and physical science and social political change going forward?

Learning Objective: By the end of the course, students will be able to articulate a number of key debates around the origins, scale, and terminology of the Anthropocene, and to position themselves in relation to ongoing academic conversations about, climate justice, system thinking, and human transformation of the global environment.

Click here to download the syllabus.

 

Taught by Dr. Elise Machline

With momentum building for an expansion of architectural and urban design practices that respond to the environmental challenges of our time, it is worth considering the socio-economic implications of what has come to be known around the world as sustainable urbanism. In this course, we bring together a series of topics aiming to address the socio-economic impacts of ‘green’ building policies focusing on Israel but through an international overview. In sum, this course aims to answer a crucial question: If sustainable urbanism does offer individual as well as societal benefits, can it be affordable to those who need it the most?
More specifically, this course will focus on (i) the sustainable urbanism policies implemented to prevent climate change; (ii) “green building policies and practices (iii) the socio-economic impacts of “green” building policies. (iiiiv) the analysis of case studies addressing sustainable urbanism.

Green Building and Socio-Economic Value _Syllabus Spring

Taught by Dr. Rina Kedem

This course examines the relationship between politics, economy and the environment, with a focus on environmental conflicts and co-operation in Palestine/Israel and its bordering territories. Its aim is to:

  1. Re-familiarize participants with basic concepts and ideas that span environmental thought, politics and history;
  2. Introduce them to pertinent case studies of political induced environmental issues arising from the Israeli-Arab conflict;
  3. Provide a forum for discussing contemporary environmental issues pertinent to the region
  4. Open opportunities for research initiatives in this field.

The course provides a conceptual introduction. It looks at the inherent tension between nationalizing projects and sustainability, and introduces an environmental history of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a case study of this tension.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. David Lehrer 

This course will survey economic thinking on environmental issues. A wide range of topics will be considered, including economic approaches to pollution control; the extent to which environmental regulations impede production of conventional goods and services; water markets; valuation of environmental resources; natural resource damage assessment; climate change; loss of biodiversity; environmental issues in emerging economies; and sustainability. The course will seek to introduce students to the insights that economics can provide and to make them aware of the pitfalls of economic approaches.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Soils form a unique and irreplaceable essential resource for all terrestrial organisms, including man. Soils form not only the very thin outer skin of the earth’s crust that is exploited by plant roots for anchorage and supply of water and nutrients. Soils are complex natural bodies formed under the influence of plants, microorganisms and soil animals, water and air from their parent material, solid rock or unconsolidated sediments. Physically, chemically and mineralogically they usually differ strongly from the parent material, and normally are far more suitable as a rooting medium for plants.

In addition to serving as a substrate for plant growth, including crops and pasture, soils play a dominant role in the biogeochemical cycling of water, carbon, nitrogen and other elements, influencing the chemical composition and turnover rates of substances in the atmosphere and the hydrosphere.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Clive Lipchin

This course will introduce the major issues hindering or allowing for efficient water management in the Middle East. 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. The course will concentrate on the Jordan River and Dead Sea Basin and associated groundwater resources and how these waters are managed and shared. The course will focus on the water resources of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. 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 shared resources and negotiating over their equitable allocation.

Click here to download the syllabus.

NON-ACADEMIC COURSES

Facilitated by Lior Yom Tov & Sarah Perle Benazera

All students and interns participate in a Peacebuilding Leadership Seminar (PLS), reflecting the Arava Institute’s mission to generate capacity-building for conciliation and cooperation, even during conflict. PLS participants engage in weekly dialogue sessions overseen by three facilitators (Israeli, Palestinian, International). Together, they discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including its historical roots, the current situation as experienced by both sides, and possible futures. They share personal experiences and family stories from different sides in the conflict, raising universal questions about identity, national ideologies, power and privilege, coexistence and personal responsibility. In this process, students are challenged to examine critically their own views, cultural values and understanding of history.

Every student, no matter the country of origin, has the opportunity to contribute significantly to this ongoing dialogue. By engaging with these issues in a multi-cultural group setting, PLS participants develop competencies in intercultural understanding and empathy. The weekly dialogue sessions are enriched by guest speakers, films on the conflict, and an intensive mid-semester trip. Workshops on storytelling, active listening and other communication skills help students in the PLS dialogue process, and contribute to developing respectful interactions within the student community.

PLS is not meant to lead to political agreement among the participants. In fact, the open dialogue reveals many ideological differences within the Conflict, as reflected by the students themselves. In PLS, we explore how to live within these differences, as individuals and groups. This builds on the Arava Institute’s belief that the social and political relationships within and between groups in this region have a significant influence on environmental practices, public policies, and grassroots 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.

Spring 2024

Taught by Noam Weiss (course coordinator),  Dr. Elli GronerDr. Omer Polak

This course will present an overview of the ecology of the Arava desert. In this course,
both basic principles of ecology followed by desert ecology will be introduced.
Students will learn about desert food webs, the interaction between ecosystems,
pollution and other risks to the conservation of the Arava.

Students will study the link between the Arava ecosystems; they will study about
plants, arthropods, mammals and birds of the terrestrial ecosystem and the principles
and wildlife of the sea. While learning about different ecosystem and taxon students
will study the anthropogenic impact on wildlife.

Click here to download the syllabus

Taught by Dr. Clive Lipchin

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the policy options for addressing environmental challenges at the local, national, regional and global scale. Such options include planning, legal tools, command and control measures, economic incentives and disincentives, and environmental impact statements, among others. We first consider how environmental problems are defined as a product of both social and environmental conditions. We delve into a range of political and economic philosophies influencing environmental policy making and consider how our own background, experiences and political opinions influence whether we define environmental conditions as problematic and how we choose policy remedies. We then open the ‘tool box’ of policy types, consider how they are applied and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. We will use a variety of case studies from the Middle East, to deepen our understanding of each.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. David Lehrer

Funded by the European UnionIn a time of multiple environmental and political crises, it is especially important to understand how global resource geopolitics shape our lives in ways big and small. This introductory course equips students with the tools they need to understand the relationship between conflict, natural resources, and the effects of this relationship on development, peace, and security.

The course is divided into three parts:
Part I familiarizes students with key concepts in global resource geopolitics and examines the historical transformations that led to our present moment of global conflict, climate crisis, and widespread predictions of resource exhaustion. Part II examines the key concepts behind fears of resource scarcity, namely the environment, natural resources, and thresholds.
Part III examines key cases and governance approaches to global resource geopolitics, looking in particular at conflict minerals, oil and gas and renewable alternatives.

For a selection of previous student papers click here.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Aviva Peeters

The course is an introduction to the concepts and application of geographic information systems and science (GIS). It is designed for students without former GIS experience, but students who have taken a course before can benefit from taking it. It focuses on the use of GIS for scientific inquiry and on its application for real-world problem solving. Different types of GIS spatial analysis are studied and applied such as suitability analysis, surface analysis and 3D analysis. Case studies from various environmental research domains are used as demonstrations. Each lesson comprises of a theoretical introduction and of an exercise. The exercises include training on the ArcGIS® Desktop software package.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Miri Lavi-Neeman

Political Ecology has emerged in the past two decades as a powerful interdisciplinary critique of ecological change. In short, Political Ecology is a way for mapping political, economic, and social factors onto questions of environmental degradation and transformation. It is a powerful way therefore to politicize, apolitical discussions of ecology and the environment; to undermine common sense understandings of “the environment” as separate from “the social”, and to bring humans and non-humans into discussions about conservation.

As a theoretical tool-kit and set of empirical case-studies, the field of Political Ecology is extremely broad and diverse. This course will provide an introduction to core tenets or perspectives of political ecology. It will introduce students to key debates in the field—such as the relationship between environment and violence, the critique of environmental determinisms and of Malthusian notions of scarcity and limits, the links between conservation, control and dispossession, and more. 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 in the context of regional and broader processes such as climate change. 

Using a combination of case studies and theoretical works, we will explore a range of environmental issues including: land, forestation, settlement, energy, and environmental movements. We will follow case studies and research in particular within Israel and the Palestine, but also from other parts of the world.

Click here to download the syllabus.

This course is about wastewater treatment processes and technology, with an overview of the operation and maintenance of wastewater plants and different treatment processes. This course is intended to provide guidance and criteria for the design and selection of small-scale wastewater treatment plants. It provides both the information necessary to select, size, and design such wastewater treatment unit processes.

This subject will provide methods and technical issues related to integrated water services, treatment and reuse of water, with particular reference to urban areas, as well as an introduction to methods for the management and start-up of wastewater plants.

Click here to download the syllabus.

NON-ACADEMIC COURSES

Facilitated by Lior Yom Tov 

All students and interns participate in a Peacebuilding Leadership Seminar (PLS), reflecting the Arava Institute’s mission to generate capacity-building for conciliation and cooperation, even during conflict. PLS participants engage in weekly dialogue sessions overseen by three facilitators (Israeli, Palestinian, International). Together, they discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict including its historical roots, the current situation as experienced by both sides, and possible futures. They share personal experiences and family stories from different sides in the conflict, raising universal questions about identity, national ideologies, power and privilege, coexistence and personal responsibility. In this process, students are challenged to examine critically their own views, cultural values and understanding of history.

Every student, no matter the country of origin, has the opportunity to contribute significantly to this ongoing dialogue. By engaging with these issues in a multi-cultural group setting, PLS participants develop competencies in intercultural understanding and empathy. The weekly dialogue sessions are enriched by guest speakers, films on the conflict, and an intensive mid-semester trip. Workshops on storytelling, active listening and other communication skills help students in the PLS dialogue process, and contribute to developing respectful interactions within the student community.

PLS is not meant to lead to political agreement among the participants. In fact, the open dialogue reveals many ideological differences within the Conflict, as reflected by the students themselves. In PLS, we explore how to live within these differences, as individuals and groups. This builds on the Arava Institute’s belief that the social and political relationships within and between groups in this region have a significant influence on environmental practices, public policies, and grassroots 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.