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The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is the premier environmental studies and research program in the Middle East. Accredited through Ben-Gurion University, the Arava Institute houses academic programs, research centers, and international cooperation initiatives focusing on a range of environmental concerns and challenges.

With a student body comprised of Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, and students from around the world, the Arava Institute offers students an exceptional opportunity to learn from leading professionals while forming friendships and developing skills that enable them to lead the region and the world in solving today’s most pressing environmental challenges.

At the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the idea that nature knows no political borders is more than a belief; it is a fact, a curriculum, and a way of life.

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies:  Mission Statement

The mission of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is to create a world-class environmental teaching and research Institute that:
  • Prepares young leaders to cooperatively solve the region’s environmental challenges.
  • Maintains high academic standards.
  • Delivers teaching and trans-boundary research opportunities at the highest quality and level to students from the Middle East and from all over the world.
  • Plays a leading role in research, conservation, environmental protection and sustainable development in the region.
  • Generates the regional capacity for conciliation and cooperation in the Middle East, in order to transcend political boundaries and achieve environmental change.

History of Academic Programs at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

The Arava Institute was founded in 1996 in the wake of the Oslo agreements as an academic and research center for environmental leadership in the Middle East. The initial Arava Program, a two semester academic program, offered undergraduate or graduate credit through the Overseas Study Program of Tel Aviv University. Today, the Arava Program is accredited through Ben Gurion University.  The Arava Institute began its Masters track with Ben Gurion University in 2002 in order to give students the opportunity to study at two leading environmental institutions and build upon the skills they developed at the Arava Institute. In 2012, AIES launched a Minor in Environmental Studies through Ben-Gurion University. This one-year program is available for Israeli undergraduates and can be combined with a major in humanities to complete their undergraduate degree.

History of Arava Institute Research Departments

The Arava Institute established its first two research programs in 2001. One of these, the Biodiversity program, was headed by Dr. Uri Shanas as a joint Israeli – Jordanian research program designed to study the biodiversity of the Arava Valley and the impact of human settlement on the ecosystem on both sides of the border. The other research center, focusing on Sustainable Agriculture, was led by Dr. Elaine Solowey, who had been studying desert crops and trees since the early 1980’s. In 2008, the Institute expanded these research departments into four research concentrations: Renewable Energy, Sustainable Agriculture, Transboundary Water Management, and Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research in order to focus on the specific areas of study in which the Institute’s staff had expertise and experience. In 2010, the Institute established the Arava Center for Sustainable Development as its outreach arm providing research, training and extension services to the developing world.

History of Arava Institute Alumni Programs

The Arava Alumni Programs Department was established in 2004 to build capacity for cooperative alumni initiatives, engage alumni through outreach programs, and enhance Jewish-Arab networking in the Middle East. In 2005, the Alumni Programs Department launched the Arava Alumni Peace and Environmental Network (AAPEN). In 2013, the North American alumni launched the North American Arava Alumni Network (NAAAN) to empower North American alumni of the Arava Institute to be community ambassadors and advocates of the Arava Institute.

Campus Life at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

The Arava Institute is located on Kibbutz Ketura in the Southern Arava Valley, Israel.

Arriving from across the globe, Arava Institute students bring a breadth and depth of diverse customs, beliefs, and opinions to the Arava Institute.  The process of cultural exchange is frequent as students live, study, and take part in a variety of extracurricular activities, including hiking, yoga, gardening, and camping. Every effort is made to provide a diverse living arrangement in each of the institute’s apartment units so that students can learn from each other in a multi-cultural community. In addition to natural friendships and interactions, there are also planned activities to direct cultural discussions and exchange.

The Arava Institute Campus Life team consists of a Campus Life Director and 2-3 Program Associates. The Campus Life Director (CLD) is responsible for arranging community programming, managing day-to-day logistics, and supporting the health and well-being of students. Arava Program Associates (PAs) are usually recent Arava Institute alumni and are easily accessible staff members that live on campus, running the Campus Life Program and helping with many day-to-day issues, from arranging student council meetings to organizing weekend games of volleyball.  

All Programs Available:
  • Sciences
    • Environmental Studies
Language of instruction


Type of school

Independent Private College




Kibbutz Ketura D.N Hevel Eilot, The Arava Valley, Israel, 88840