Dilshaad and John in a meeting at the Arava Institute
Dilshaad (left) and John (centre) in a meeting at the Arava Institute

John Powell and Dilshaad Bundhoo travelled to Israel in the early part of May to visit the Arava Institute for Environmental Science (AIES) in the Arava Valley of the Negev.

AIES are pioneers in research the application of environment science in extreme environments, with a focus on renewable energy, transboundary resource management (e.g. water), and sustainable agriculture. The Institute also undertakes a wide range of teaching, delivering courses validated by the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. One particularly interesting course is the Peace Building Leadership Seminar, which is based on open dialogue and has the aim of developing cultural understanding, and creating a sense of community within areas of conflict. The teaching programmes brings together students from higher education institutions in the region (Israel, Palestine, Jordan), along with those from a wider international context.

During the visit Dilshaad Bundhoo delivered a seminar presentation based on findings from her PhD research, which has developed a context based framework for understanding how relationships transform at times of stress (interpersonal resilience) instead of breaking down. The seminar was well attended and concluded with a lively discussion on the applicability of the research to conflict situations in the region.

John and Dilshaad also visited the Centre for Creative Ecology, based at the Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava Valley, to explore a more practical, and ‘hands-on’ teaching approach in relation to the development of sustainable communities. The Centre encourages students to learn a range of practical skills that integrate new technologies with locally available resources in creating more energy efficient housing, energy, and water use, and organic agriculture based on permaculture concepts.

 

John and Dilshaad (centre left and right) at the Kibbutz Lotan