The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) is the premier environmental education and research program in the Middle East, preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the region's environmental challenges. Affiliated with Ben-Gurion University, AIES houses academic programs, research, and international cooperation initiatives on a range of environmental concerns and challenges.
Students at AIES study a range of environmental issues from a trans-boundary and interdisciplinary perspective while learning peace-building and leadership skills.
With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, and students from around the world, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies offers students a unique opportunity to study and live together for an extended period of time; building networks and developing understanding that will enable future cooperative work and activism in the Middle East and beyond.
As the premier institute for environmental studies in the region, the Arava Institute provides students with a unique approach to studying the environmental challenges in the Middle East. Together with leading environmental professionals, academics, and researchers, students explore a range of environmental issues from a trans-boundary and interdisciplinary perspective while learning peace-building and leadership skills.
Students maintain a rigorous course-load in environmental studies including environmental ethics, policy and economics, ecology, and sustainability. They also participate in a weekly peace-building and leadership seminar where they engage in dialog with one another focusing on issues of coexistence, tolerance, and communication.
The Arava Institute gives Jewish, Arab and other students a unique opportunity to study and live together for an extended period of time. By living, learning and exploring together, students form friendships and develop skills that will enable them to lead the region in solving environmental challenges facing the Middle East and beyond through partnership and mutual understanding.
The Arava Institute offers a broad range of courses on environmental science, social analysis, and policy. In this comprehensive and interdisciplinary view of environmental studies, a student's coursework might involve setting field traps for gerbils in the desert, developing skills for mediation, studying international politics, and analyzing the effect of natural resource exploitation on less powerful groups in society.
Environmental Science; Ecology; Environmental Policy; Peace-making - many other course options for environmental science, environmenal policy, and sustainability.
The Arava Institute is located on Kibbutz Ketura in the Southern Arava Valley, Israel. The student population is generally broken down into the following: a third from North America, Europe, and other countries outside of the Middle East, a third from Israel (Jews and Arabs), and a third from Jordan, Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries. Students live together in dormitories on a shared campus, and study together in courses and field study trips. The academic year begins with an orientation, which introduces students to the academic, student, and kibbutz life at the Arava Institute. During this time, students enroll for classes and take part in regional activities.
Kibbutz Ketura, located in the Arava Rift Valley, sits beneath limestone hills with a view of Jordan's Edom mountains. The Arava Road, or Highway 90, runs just outside the main gate, with busses going south to Eilat—a resort city on the Red Sea that borders Aquaba, Jordan—and north to the Dead Sea (2 hours away), Beersheva (3 hours away), Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (each four hours away). For more information about Kibbutz Ketura, please visit www.ketura.org.il.
On the main campus, four units, each with shared rooms and a kitchenette, face a grassy common area. Typically, up to eight students live in one unit, with two students sharing a bedroom and bathroom. Wireless internet is accessible throughout the entire campus, and each student is encouraged to bring their own laptop. There is a computer lab for computer use and printing. A new campus, made up of desert-toned units, sits just outside the main campus. Students study together on campus, and they can use the main kibbutz library as a quiet study zone.
The main campus, situated on the grounds of Hadassah's educational complex at Kibbutz Ketura, is an environmentally attuned facility designed to provide comfort and functionality. The design also serves the program goals of "learning through living," with emphasis on four central themesThe campus is linked to kibbutz life, and students enjoy contact with the residents as part of the greater community. Students rely on services such as the dining room, laundry, classrooms, sports facilities, and the general library.
The campus is open to the desert environment. The courtyard and terraced rooftops in particular allow for viewing of the breathtaking surrounding landscape. There are numerous locations, including a low-impact campsite and a seating area built from mud and recycled materials, available for meetings and solo reflection to encourage learning in nature. The campus is designed to be welcoming to students of all cultures, while retaining a distinct, Middle Eastern character. Consideration in the furniture arrangement, as well as the bedroom and communal space layout, also help to create a pluralistic and inviting atmosphere.
Students eat in the kibbutz dining hall with kibbutz members, staff, volunteers, and visitors. They use kibbutz facilities, such as communal laundry and recycling, and participate as volunteers in the dining hall once each semester. Students can choose to further their connection to the Kibbutz through "adopted" Kibbutz families. Families might host students in their homes, during family activities, or for occasional meals.
Three meals a day are served in the cafeteria-style dining hall, where students eat with the kibbutz members, staff, volunteers etc. Additional food, drinks, cosmetics, and basic cleaning supplies can also be purchased at a small shop on the Kibbutz. Otherwise, all other shopping can be done in the city of Eilat, which is only 40 minutes away by bus. The closest ATM machine is at a nearby kibbutz, 10 minutes away by bus.