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 .

Spring 2021

Taught by Prof. Uri Shanas and Dr. Elli Groner

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 Prof. Dan Rabinowitz

This course examines the impact climate change already has on the region; the consequences that might ensue as global warming advances further in the future; and the potential of the region to turn from being part of the problem to making part of the solution.

The course aims to:

  • Familiarize participants with state of the art climate models for the region generally and for particular countries in it;
  • Introduce participants to the notion of climate inequality, and to the link between climate change and inequality between states in the region and within them
  • Expose participants to the relationship between climate change and semi-forced migration, both within countries and across national borders, and to the implications such dynamics could have for (in)security and geo-political (in)stability.
  • Acquaint participants with the extraordinary potential of the Middle East for solar energy, with special emphasis on the six oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf.
  • Introduce participants to the notion of Peak Oil and, through it, to the notion that major oil producers in the region could become leaders of the global energy transition and the eclipse of fossil fuels in favor of renewables.

Click here to download the syllabus.

Taught by Prof. Dan Rabinowitz

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:

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

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. Shimrit Maman

Remote Sensing is the technology enabling to acquire information about an area or object without direct physical contact with that area or object. Forms of remote sensing include aerial photographs (nowadays mostly UAVs), satellite images, and field spectroscopy.
This course aims to provide students with both remote sensing theory and practical applications using examples of environmental research and applications. The science and technology of remote sensing will be overviewed alongside hands-on measurements linking satellite, airborne and field data.

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. Elli Groner and Dr. Jessica Schaeckermann
This course teaches the basic terminology, principles and ideas of ecology while also covering history of the science, its evolution and links to other sciences. Subsequent lectures will examine these ideas looking at different ecological scales: individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems. Human ecological issues will also be discussed where relevant within the framework of the course.

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. Noah Morris

Data and statistical analysis are being presented to us in ever increasing quantities. This course is based on the belief that statistical reasoning and an ability to understand data are essential tools for any well educated person and in particular for those involved in environmental science. The course does not aim to introduce complex mathematical methods of statistical analysis but it does aim to introduce a way of thinking about statistics and data. The course will succeed if the following aims are achieved:

  • Students are able to understand and explain the statistics presented in various academic papers.
  • Students are able to think critically about data which is presented.
  • Students have an understanding of the methods involved in data collection and the possible pitfalls which might be faced.
  • Students have an ability to present data clearly and choose which graphs are best suited to describe various data sets.
  • An appreciation of the importance of making decisions in situations of uncertainty.
  • When planning research the students will have the ability to design what data should be collected and how to collect it.

After taking this course it is hoped that students will be better prepared to make rational decisions in situations of uncertainty about matters of social policy. They will be able to assess critically statistical claims that they encounter during discussions or when considering a news article or an academic paper. Statistical reasoning introduces students to the basic concepts and logic of statistical analysis and gives the students introductory-level practical ability to choose, generate, and properly interpret appropriate descriptive and inferential methods. In addition, the course will help students gain an appreciation for the diverse applications of statistics and its relevance to their lives and fields of study.

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

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.

Facilitated by Lindsey Zemler

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.