Semester Course List

*course lists are subject to change

Spring 2020

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.

Taught by Prof. Uri Shanas

The aim of this course provides the students with hands-on experience in studying biodiversity by exploring its sharp decline and the human-made crisis that ecologists are trying to solve. Some of the important questions are: What species exist, and how many? 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? We will learn about the ecosystem changes of sand dunes including natural and anthropogenic processes. In addition, we will study the development threats to the dunes and the politics behind them. These questions and others will be dealt with before, during and after sampling several taxonomic groups on sand dunes.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Dan Tamir and Dr. Yael Teff-Seker

This is an interdisciplinary course examining the environment threats and opportunities facing the Middle East (specifically: Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon) and what role the environment can play in promoting cooperation between sworn enemies. The course will look at four areas of both conflict and potential cooperation: water supply, air quality, renewable energy and biodiversity conservation. We will begin by examining traditional methods of diplomacy and conflict resolution before exploring methods of economic cooperation through market mechanisms and structured environmental mediation. Students will participate in a series of simulated water negotiations to integrate the knowledge and tools learned during the course. Finally, we will examine how environmental activists and professionals are taking a leading role in building the foundation for trust in the region. The course utilizes economic tools, history, natural resource management and social theory to approach some of the most relevant and challenging issues of our era, whose lessons may be applicable around the globe.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Avigail Morris

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.

Taught by Dr. Elli Groner and Dr. Anton Khalilieh

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.

Taught by Dr. Miri Lavi Neeman and Dr. Yael Teff-Seker

This course begins with a historical overview of the main themes and different concepts and approaches to environmental education in the world in the 21st century, and then examines various methods of learning and teaching about the environment and the connections between the environment, education and the community. There will be one daylong, local field trip. Each student will prepare a personal project that will include developing, and optionally, running an environmental program for school-aged children.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed
This course examines the utilization and storage for renewable technologies such as wind, solar, biomass, fuel cells and hybrid systems and for more conventional fossil fuel-based technologies. In addition, it will study the environmental consequences of energy conversion and how renewable energy can reduce air pollution and global climate change. Lastly, it will evaluate the regional environmental problems and the role of the renewable energy in solving these problems by focusing on new developments in renewable energy technologies.

Click here to download the syllabus.

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 one-day field trips.

Click here to download the syllabus.

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.

Taught by Dr. Clive Lipchin

This course 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.


Facilitated by Dr. Michael Alexander, Baraa Aslih & Sarah Perle Benazera

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.

Facilitated by Rabbi Michael Cohen

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.

Taught by Leah Benamy

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.

Taught by Elissa Feingold

The course aims to improve reading comprehension of academic English through the use of authentic, unedited texts from disciplines connected with environmental issues. The major goal of this course is to provide students with reading and writing strategies in order to both understand an academic article and be able to write their homework assignments for other courses in appropriate level academic English. For example: a research paper, policy briefs and abstracts at the required academic level.

Click here to download the course outline.

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