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.

*The course list is tentative to change .

Fall 2020

Taught by Dr. Shimrit Maman

This introductory course aims to provide students with an integrated overview of the science of climate change through various aspects: physical and anthropogenic. The science of climate change will be presented, drawing attention to state of the art research and technologies. Diplomatic and policy efforts and trends will be discussed. And lastly, social changes, adaptation and activism issues that will be presented and analyzed.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Elli Groner

This course will teach the principles and processes of desert ecology. The course includes 3 spheres: terrestrial, marine, and the air. The course starts with an introduction to deserts of the world and why deserts are considered hazards for life. Then we study adaptations to the hazards of deserts and move from the individuals to the desert food-web and ecosystem and study what makes deserts special. The course ends with studying human-nature interactions including ecosystem services and desert management. While learning about different ecosystem and taxon students will study the anthropogenic impact on wildlife. The Arava is unique in its massive bird migration from Africa to Europe and Asia and we will study the issue of migration in relation to the and the Arava as a station in the migration. We will also learn about the Red sea and the coral reefs ecosystem.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Clive Lipchin

This course defines environmental problems and considers the roles of scientists, civil society, media and the policy-making community. Applying this knowledge to Israel’s land use policy, students examine how decisions are made in practice – for example, in the case of the proposed Solar Power facility in the Arava. The course then looks in depth at each type of environmental policy and how they have been implemented. Finally, we scale up to regional and international environmental policy and analyze how policy is made when multiple countries are involved and the environmental challenges vary by geography.

By its conclusion studies have a toolbox of policy options to address environmental challenges at the local, national, regional and global scale, including: planning, economic policies, command and control, and economic incentives and disincentives.

Click here to download the syllabus

Taught by Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed & Dr. Noah Morris

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, physical and statistical tools that assist in the study of the environment. The course will cover the major environmental issues facing our planet:
Air pollution,
Population growth
Energy resources
The water cycle
Global warming
Hazardous substances
Ozone depletion

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. 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 is comprised of a theoretical introduction and of an exercise. The exercises include training on the ArcGIS® Desktop software package. The final project consists of designing and applying a GIS analysis model relevant to the student’s field of interest.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed and Dr. Noah Morris

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.

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. Elaine Solowey and Mike Kaplin

This course presents an overview of approaches to sustainable agriculture, comparing environmental impacts of sustainable agriculture to conventional agriculture. Subjects include crop diversity, smart breeding, permaculture, bio-intensive agriculture, large-scale organics, water-saving techniques, IPM and restoration ecology. Students complete essay questions in an open book exam, do a project of their choosing, take one field trip, and visit and evaluate crops in the experimental fields at Kibbutz Ketura.

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. 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.


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 Tess Lehrich

Environmental Leadership (EL) is a non-credit component of the Arava Institute’s academic studies program. This seminar will explore the concept of Environmental Leadership through a range of sessions and workshops held throughout the semester, combining theoretical learning, skill building workshops, and hands on project-based learning to develop students’ leadership potential.

This semester, EL will offer two tracks, highlighting the interplay between individual action and large scale institutional change as two important and complementary tactics for finding real solutions to today’s environmental crisis. Students will be asked to choose a track where they wish to develop their personal leadership skills. Throughout the semester, there will be a number of sessions where both tracks meet together.

The Sustainable Living Track will feature hands-on projects around campus. Each two hour session will include one hour theoretical/discussion based exploration of a topic and one hour of hands-on projects around campus. Each session will be student led, planned and designed in cooperation with the EL Facilitator. Topics will include organic gardening and compost, zero waste, mud building, and more. Students who wish to explore a topic and/or work on a project beyond the framework of the EL session will receive guidance and mentorship from the EL facilitator.

The Environmental Diplomacy and Social Entrepreneurship Track will build skills and provide tools for activism, entrepreneurship, and environmental and civic diplomacy in collaboration with the Track II Forum and other Institute Alumni in relevant fields. Using real, on the ground case studies, students will engage in theoretical exploration to develop their diplomacy skills and knowledge and open the door for future collaboration and participation in the Arava Institute’s Track II Forum. Students may also be provided with opportunities to sit in on Track II Environmental Forum meetings and workshops, deepening their understanding of diplomatic processes.

Additionally, students will explore the basics of campaign building, working together with cross-border partners, and developing business models, as well have opportunities for practical work to develop their own ideas with the support and mentorship of Alumni Facilitators.

EL is an elective element of the Arava Institute’s academic program. Students who participate in 80% or more of the EL Seminar will receive a Certificate of Environmental Leadership from AIES.

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.