Upcoming information session looks at how York students can study in Israel

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), a teaching and research program in the Middle East, is hosting an information session at York on Wednesday, Feb. 27, aimed particularly at undergraduate students wanting to study abroad.

The information session, led by Rabbi Michael Cohen, the outreach director of AIES, will take place from 11am to noon in Room 140, Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building, Keele campus.

Left: The road to Kibbutz Ketura

For 10 years, AIES has brought Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian, Egyptian and North American students, including students from York University, together to do applied research on ecosystem issues affecting the Middle East region. AIES is on Kibbutz Ketura, a collective community in Israel’s Southern Arava Valley – a desert in the Syrio-African rift near the Jordanian and Egyptian borders and the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat.

At the institute, students explore a range of environmental issues from a regional, interdisciplinary perspective. AIES is home to academic programs, research and public involvement. York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) has had a partnership agreement with AIES since 1999.

There is also a graduate level exchange program with the institute, which sends AIES students to the York Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) for up to a year, while York students go to Israel.

Right: Kibbutz Ketura, photo by Sharon Benheim, AIES

AIES is not only a centre for Middle East environmental studies but for leadership development as well, preparing future Jewish and Arab leaders to solve the region’s environmental challenges cooperatively. Students have a unique opportunity to study and live together for an extended period of time. Students live in special dormitories built on the Kibbutz for the institute, but eat their meals in the communal dinning room of the Kibbutz and are adopted by Kibbutz families. Together, they build networks and understanding that will enable future cooperative work in the Middle East and beyond.

By encouraging environmental cooperation between peoples, the Institute is working towards peace and sustainable development on a regional and global scale.