When it comes to the global environment, diversity is the name of the game. The small planet we call home hosts a breathtaking array of climates and landscapes: arid deserts, humid rainforests, glacial polar regions, rolling grasslands, towering mountain ranges, and human habitats such as sprawling urban areas and the farmlands that feed them. The range is staggering and profound.
If you take a look at the environmental issues that might face just one small area of the planet, you’ll likely see the effects of pollution, climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, overpopulation, and soil degradation. That range is also staggering, and deeply problematic.
In order to understand the diverse challenges our global environment faces, you need an equally diverse set of tools, resources, insights, and experiences. And that’s precisely what makes the International MA in Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University International (TAUi) exceptional in preparing the next generation of environmental leaders and problem solvers.
For one thing, the program is taught in Israel, a small, densely populated country with a profoundly diverse environment. The snowy alpine climate of the Golan Heights is only an hour’s drive from the lush fields and forests of the Mediterranean coastal plain, and if you turn south, that plain soon gives way to the vast dunes of the Negev Desert. The Dead Sea and its shore, the lowest point on Earth, make up part of the country’s eastern border, and the Red Sea waters at Israel’s southernmost edge host a hyper-diverse, globally significant coral reef. Each region of the country comes with its own set of environmental challenges, such as pollution, desertification, deforestation, and cross-border pollution, and the Environmental Studies MA program at TAUi addresses all of them and more.
About the only commonality among the classes in TAUi’s MA in Environmental Studies program is that they’re all conducted entirely in English. It is a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary program, bringing together experts from a host of TAU’s faculties, including life sciences, engineering, biotechnology, philosophy, and economics. Topics such as urban sustainability and water policy are tackled from a holistic perspective, and finding solutions becomes a practical and informed exercise. Each course delves deeply into the core issues currently challenging our natural world: environmental policy, climate change, and sustainable energy, to name a few. The scientific, legal, ethical, and health issues relevant to the environment are explored in depth to elucidate the big-picture perspective needed to understand, and solve, environmental problems.
Complementary to the interdisciplinary approach, students from many different academic backgrounds come from around the world to benefit from the unique opportunities offered by TAUi’s MA in Environmental Studies program. Program graduate Francesca Falco – who came to the program as a practicing environmental lawyer in Italy – underscores the value of the variety she found at TAUi: “Because students were coming from very different backgrounds and each contributing with their own knowledge and insights to class discussions and projects, it made the program an enriching professional and personal experience.”
The goal of TAUi’s Environmental Studies faculty is exposing students to the latest cutting-edge environmental research and innovative solutions for contemporary environmental challenges, and to apply it to parallel issues across the globe. The program is based in the Porter School of Environmental and Earth Science, a world-renowned ecobuilding on Tel Aviv University’s beautiful campus. Field outings around the country are a key part of the program, and they give students an outstanding opportunity to learn about Israel’s environmental challenges firsthand.
Program graduate Naresh Bhansali from India shares, “One of the most powerful topics for me was the trans-boundary water resources issues between Israel, Jordan, the Palestine Authority and Gaza, that were covered in great detail. I gained insights that would help in studying and providing solutions in my country.”
A rich learning experience, on- and off-campus
The courses themselves are only part of the rich student experience offered by TAUi’s MA in Environmental Studies program. An optional four-month internship places program students in top environmental organizations across Israel, with areas of focus ranging from environmental advocacy, to green architecture, to corporate social responsibility. Program graduate Francesca Falco, for instance, interned for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), working with Dr. Shkedy Yehoshua, the NPA’s Chief Scientist. Francesca conducted research on environmental policies for preventing the introduction of invasive species. Her evaluations of the cost-effectiveness and inter-institutional synergies of policies currently employed in different countries around the world will contribute directly to the formulation of a new Israeli law to restrict the introduction of invasive species.
While the degree program is an intensive one-year experience, many students choose to stay on for an additional one-year thesis. Program graduate Jincheng Luo wrote his thesis based on research he conducted at TAU’s Environmental Bioengineering lab. His research topic – protein extraction from seaweeds – has potential to provide a solution to overpopulation and renewable food supply issues. Even after Jincheng returned to his home country of China and a position as editor of a prestigious journal, his research was continued as a collaboration between TAU, the Technion and the National Institute for Oceanography.
Graduates of TAUi’s MA in Environmental Studies go on to have a real, positive impact on our Earth – on the governmental, industrial, societal, cultural and corporate levels.
Graduate Maya Yarowsky currently works for Ernst & Young in their Climate Change and Sustainability Services Division. She provides environmental consultation to some of the largest industrial and consumer goods companies in the Israeli market and a rapidly growing cohort of high-tech companies. Maya says, “My degree from Tel Aviv University International is precisely why I was able to gain visibility with a global company like Ernst & Young.
Do you envision yourself as part of the next generation of environmental leaders? Tel Aviv University International is where that vision can become a reality.
Registration for the TAUi MA in Environmental Studies program closes on Sunday, July 31st.
Join us on Wednesday, June 22nd for a unique NextGen Environmental Trends webinar where you’ll hear exciting lectures by leading faculty members and get an insight into the International MA Program in Environmental Studies.