Wide-scale observation, inter-field collaboration and outside-the-box thinking: these are the skills we’ll need to mitigate the effects of climate change and translate local approaches into global solutions. Enter Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and its new School of Sustainability and Climate Change (SSCC) — a hub for positive-impact research, with a focus on topics such as renewable resources, sustainable management and environmental policy.
Its inception was a natural step forward for a university that’s rightfully gained a reputation for its environmental, energy and sustainability research. Within its labs, researchers have tackled such challenges as freshwater scarcity and food security, developed advanced heating and cooling technologies and studied the effects of an increasingly hot climate on human health.
These five decades of experience have now formed the backbone of the SSCC. The school pulls together knowledge and expertise from over 150 research labs, BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and departments including geography and environmental development, earth and environmental sciences and environmental engineering.
Climate leaders in the making
Having learned to thrive in the Negev Desert — with its sand dunes, cliff faces, deep canyons and sprawling desert flats — Ben-Gurion University is uniquely positioned to lead cutting-edge climate change research.
This is reflected in the SSCC — Israel’s first university to offer a program dedicated to the subject. It provides students with tools to develop and advance practical solutions to global challenges through a range of BAs and BScs in sustainability and environmental protection, as well as graduate programs.
With a firm gaze to the future, the school is focused on helping students flourish as entrepreneurs in sustainability and environmental development; researchers and academics; and experts in the public and private sectors. Fundamentally, all students will leave fully prepared to face 21st-century challenges.
International students are welcome to join in the efforts: the university’s Albert Katz International School teaches English-language courses that are relevant to the SSCC’s vision, such as ecology, management and evolution. The SSCC is working to offer full degree programs to English-speaking students in the near future.
A multidisciplinary mindset
Recognising that sustainability is a broad concept, the SSCC encourages collaboration between researchers of different fields across the university’s three campuses.
Its integrative curriculum reflects this framework: on one hand, students focus on engineering and life sciences; on the other, they cover topics such as philosophy, psychology and humanities. Combining these areas of knowledge gives them an interdisciplinary experience.
This unique approach aims to strengthen research carried out in fields such as water, food security, clean energy, environmental engineering, public health and social justice — areas where considering behavioural factors alongside technology, sciences and policy is essential to make an impact.
What’s more, the school creates synergy among researchers in the field and representatives from relevant industries, government and international organisations. The SSCC builds on Be’er-Sheva’s growing ecosystem and thriving innovation to connect with local and global industries, making it possible for the research taking place within its walls to be translated into real-world solutions.