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Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
The Study Abroad Office and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) are glad to offer a unique opportunity for students interested in conservation and the environment. This program is of special relevance to Environmental Studies, Biology and other Earth Sciences majors, but also offers academic courses of interest to Geography, Global Studies, and Peace, War and Defense majors, as well as students with academic interests in the Middle East more generally.
Located in the Arava Desert in southern Israel, AIES serves as a regional center for conservation and environmental protection activities. AIES provides students with the technical information, fundamentals of public policy, and understanding of philosophical concepts necessary for effective participation in environmental concerns. The AIES program is notable not only for its focus on the environment, but also for its location on Kibbutz Ketura. Because students will be living and studying on the kibbutz, they may experience life in this unique model of communal agricultural life.
The Arava Institute is accredited through the Overseas Students Program at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Its academic program is conducted in English and offers two fourteen-week semesters (Fall and Spring). UNC-Chapel Hill students will be able to enroll in either semester or for a full academic year. The academic schedule includes an Interdisciplinary Seminar analyzing regional environmental issues, and courses in three concentrations - Ecology & Environmental Sciences, Environmental Policy, and Environmental Social & Cultural Studies. Students are required to take a minimum of four credit bearing courses, including one interdisciplinary compulsory course. Students may choose an independent credit bearing study project as one of their elective courses. In addition, students are required to participate in the Arava Institute’s Peace-building and Environmental Leadership Seminar (PELS) which consists of discussions, workshops, guest lectures, and field trips. There are two components to the PELS program: Peace-building (PB) and Environmental Leadership (EL). PELS-PB includes professional facilitation from Jewish-Arab teams experienced with intra-group dialogue. PELS-EL focuses on gaining skills for effective environmental campaigning, including work in groups, decision making, project planning, media relations and direct action. This seminar is not credit-bearing. Classes are made up of both North American and Middle Eastern students.
The program features unique ecosystems and human habitats: the arid Arava (Araba) Valley, the rich coral reefs of the Red Sea, Kibbutz communal life and arid sustainable agriculture. Together, the diverse student body and faculty participate in lectures, field trips, group and individual studies. The program provides a balanced scientific, political and social understanding of complex environmental issues.
Facilities available to students include the AIES's extensive environmental research library and a computer room with on-line access. Students may also use the kibbutz library. The academic year runs from early October to late May, with a break between the semesters. Classes are held four days per week, allowing students to use the other days to pursue their seminar projects, study, or work in different parts of the kibbutz.
Courses in this program are Transfer Credit.
Transfer Credit Courses (not taught by UNC Faculty): ACTION REQUIRED
- You must submit the Credit Request Form to earn any credit for your time abroad.
- You must earn the equivalent of a C or higher to earn any credit.
- These courses will transfer back to UNC as “TREQ” credits.
Students live in kibbutz apartments shared with Middle Eastern students. This cultural immersion is a valuable part of the study abroad experience at Arava. Meals are served three times a day in the communal dining hall, where students eat alongside kibbutz members. Students have the opportunity to participate in the cultural activities and festivals held by the kibbutz. For other recreational activities, the student apartments are near tennis courts, a weight room, a swimming pool, a riding stable, a soccer field, and a basketball court. Not all learning goes on in the classroom. Students learn about regional planning and development through extensive hiking in the area. The program also holds field trips to Jordan and Egypt, and provides a range of opportunities to tour Israel. Kibbutz Ketura is a small oasis village. Its location allows students to appreciate the scenic Arava Desert while concentrating on their work. When students wish to explore further, however, they can visit the Red Sea resort cities of Eilat and Aqaba with a half-hour's drive.
Review the Budget Sheet posted above for detailed information on costs and fees. Costs vary per term and are subject to change.
Tuition and fees for the program are set based on the host institution’s rates, and will be charged to the participant’s UNC student account. Always refer to the Budget Sheet on this page, and not the host institution’s posted rates, as it is customized for UNC students. Review the Budget Sheet for additional Cashier Billed Expenses and Out-of-Pocket Costs. The Study Abroad Office strongly encourages students to budget carefully for their time abroad.
Getting Started: Funding Study Abroad
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Follow these steps to apply for this program:
- Complete the required UNC application by clicking “Apply Now” at the top of the page. If you have not done so already, create a profile to start your application.
- The Study Abroad Office will review applications and nominate qualified students to the host institution.
- Nominated students are required to complete an application for the host institution. Follow instructions provided by the Study Abroad Advisor and make note of all deadlines.
"[See] the new video
highlighting the work and impact of the Arava Institute, [whose] mission of environmental cooperation in the face of political conflict is an integral step in building trust in the Middle East."
For information on requesting ARS accommodations (academic, health, and mobility concerns) for a study abroad program, contact the Advisor for Access