I’ve now finished my first year of Tel Aviv University’s MA in environmental studies, and I’m focusing on my thesis. One of the things I like about the program is that if you’re not interested in writing a thesis, you don’t have to — in fact, you need certain grades to apply to the thesis track. I think it’s a smart approach: if you’re taking the program to enrich your knowledge or change career path, you might not need to write a thesis.
My topic is environmental cooperation under the Abraham Accords – the normalization agreement signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. in September 2020. Specifically, I’m focusing on a recent agreement facilitated by the Accords that will see Israel provide Jordan with desalinated water, and Jordan provide Israel with solar power. It’s the first big outcome of the Accords that sees countries enter increased cooperation on environmental issues.
Sustainability taking center stage
Recently, the University of Haifa has articulated a new strategic vision, committing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our core strategy. We’re the only Israeli university that took the SDGs as a strategic initiative and made an effort to integrate them into our activities, at all levels.
Another example is the Haifa Innovation Labs, which I head. Their focus is taking innovation and entrepreneurship to make a difference on social and environmental issues. Our capstone course is called The Innovation Nursery: students are faced with a challenge and, over the course of one year, work to develop a prototype solution. Last year, students developed sensors to read the brainwaves of people with late-stage ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), allowing them to communicate. Technology, AI, engineering — all different kinds of disciplinary expertise came together, and it was really touching.
Agriculture and the environment
Why is the Robert H. Smith Faculty a great option for students who want to be involved in the field of sustainability?
It’s the only academic body in Israel that provides a degree in agricultural sciences, and when young people look at the future and its challenges, agriculture is one of them.
Current predictions estimate that by 2050, there will be around 10 billion people on Earth. If things stay the same, the agricultural sector will have to increase production by about 70 percent. That’s a huge task, especially if you consider that available land and water are decreasing, which means having to produce more with less.
Promoting renewable energy
I’ve liked chemistry since high school — it felt like the basic science you can build upon and practice in the industry very easily. I pursued my first degree in the field at Bar-Ilan University, and I continued to do a master’s and PhD in the area of polymer science. I later worked for a few years in a lab that specializes in spectroscopy, and this is where I started getting involved in the energy area, in fields like batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. The work in the energy field and with the industry attracted me. So, when Bar-Ilan University thought of starting the new Center for Energy and Sustainability, I really wanted to be a part of it.
A chemistry powerhouse
Ariel University is a great option for students who want to pursue chemistry or other STEM subjects. Why?