Can Collaboration on Environmental Issues Contribute to Peacebuilding in the Middle East?

This August, students from Columbia University and Tel Aviv University will travel through the Middle East to learn about the environmental challenges facing communities in Jordan and Israel. They will be posting on State of the Planet about their experiences and you can also follow them on social media at #CUJordanIsrael2017.

Over two weeks, students will explore many questions, including whether and how collaboration on shared natural resources can be used as a tool for peace building in the region. The students will be led by Professor Joshua Fisher from Columbia University and Natalia Gutkowski from Tel Aviv University. Together they will teach students about how Jordan and Israel are cooperating on environmental issues and managing shared natural resources. The fieldwork is an integral component of the course NECR K5260 Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East, which is part of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at the School of Professional Studies.

Noam Alon picNoam Alon

An Israeli native, Noam’s long-term goal is to play a constructive role in the emergence of a Palestinian state and she is strongly motivated to develop an interdisciplinary approach in order to do so. She is an undergraduate student at Columbia University’s School of General Studies, pursuing a BA in Political Science. Through the course, she looks forward to deepening her understanding of transboundary natural resources and gaining insights from past experience in conflict regions, while at the same time broadening her overall knowledge of sustainability issues in the Middle East. She is looking for untapped opportunities to engage in dialogue about these topics throughout the summer and in the future.

AndreAndre Zhulpa Camporesi

Andre is originally from Italy and has been living in Israel for almost a year while studying at Tel Aviv University.  Her background is in linguistic and humanistic studies, and she recently completed a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, which gave her a deep understanding of the most serious environmental issues that we are all facing nowadays. She is prepared to contribute to the investigation of the important environmental challenges of the world, with a special focus on Israel and the Middle-East. As a surfer and scuba diver, she is extremely involved with the issues related to the ocean and marine conservation, and is currently seeking employment in this field.  She loves to travel and to discover new countries and cultures, always with her camera, which reflects her passion for photography and reporting.

Liron Cohen

Liron is 33 years old, married to Michal, and lives in Oranit. Liron has a B.A in General History and Geography from Tel Aviv University, and is currently in the process of finishing a master’s in Environmental Studies, majoring in water. He served in the army for three years, as a soldier in an infantry unit, in the Golani Brigade. After military service, he worked in the Leadership Academy in the Upper Galilee. Liron has worked in the informal education system in a number of different capacities, most recently as a teacher in HaKfar HaYarok, a school for environmental Leadership. Liron’s hobbies include nature hikes, traveling and basketball.

Liat DaudiLiat Daudi
Liat is currently conducting her master’s thesis research at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. The title of her research is: “The link between Orthodox women’s identities and environmental attitudes,” supervised by Prof. Rakefet Sela-Sheffy and Dr. Daniel Mishori. It examines the connection between Jewish Ultra-Orthodox identity and environmental ways of thinking. As an environmental and cultural researcher, Liat is constantly working to expand her horizons, striving to gain a broad perspective on the environmental, economic, and social aspects of the bio-geographical region in which she lives.

Adi Etkin

Adi is a currently a first year master’s student in Environmental Studies at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. She holds a B.A in Geography Science and European Politics from Ben-Gurion University in the Negev. Adi is studying climate science with a research focus on the winter season in Israel and its environmental impact on the amphibian ecosystem. As part of her research, Adi studies water in the region and assesses changes in an era of climate change. Now, more than ever, she realizes that the solution to such a sensitive subject as water must be across borders and continents.

Alex Harden picAlexandra Harden

Alexandra is pursuing her master’s in the Climate and Society program at Columbia University. She received her undergraduate degree from Colgate University, with a major in political science and a minor in writing and rhetoric. Prior to Columbia, Alexandra was working with The Consortium for Capacity Building at the University of Colorado Boulder where she was also continuing her education in atmospheric and oceanic science. Her research has focused on the destabilizing impacts of climate variability and conflict-sensitive approaches to environmental conservation.

Melissa Kaslowski picMelissa Kaslowski

Melissa is a master’s student at Columbia University studying Sustainability Management. She has a BA from Skidmore College in Environmental Studies. She participated in a study abroad program during her undergraduate degree, traveling to Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia studying the effects of climate change on small-scale farmers. She looks forward to learning more about the environmental impacts of the separation wall in Israel and Palestinian territories. In the future, Melissa hopes to be able to work in cross-border cooperations to achieve sustainable development in vulnerable societies.

Roy Koren

Roy is 31 years old and grew up in a town called Mevasseret Zion, near Jerusalem. He is married to Liron and they are parents to Ray and a 3 month old black puppy. Roy is a first year master’s student at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel-Aviv University. He completed a B.A. in Information Systems & Management at Ben Gurion University. Roy He is a huge fan of Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club. He also serves as a Helicopter Pilot in the IAF.

Sehrab Msarwi works as astronaut guide in Observatory Alqasemi College, where she has been working since 2014. She is a first year master’s student at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel-Aviv University. She finished second in her class at Alqasemi College with a B.Sc in Science and prior to that attended the prestigious Al Qasemi High School. Sehrab wants to improve environmental education in her country, including in her hometown Baka alGarbeia where she currently lives, and abroad.

Diana Mon picDiana M. Mon

Diana M. Mon is pursuing an Executive Master of Public Administration degree at Columbia University, with a focus on policy and economics. She is the co-founder of CARE Foundation, a not-for-profit company that allows for affordable real estate development Diana’s research deals with creating a campaign in the Middle East to access quality essential and basic informational services to the community by establishing the سلام (“Salam or Peace”) Community Hubs. These centers are based on innovative justice hubs and similar systems carried out in other countries. She is interested in an investigation that reflects positive and critical views of public-private coalitions to find ways to create these hubs to assist refugees and civilians in daily actions and help them make informed decisions and share natural resources while overcoming challenges that prevent their communities realizing their full potential.

noganoffNoga Noff

Noga is in her last semester at the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her final project is focused on better integrating the different road users in the city, through soft measures, without creating endless infrastructures.  Noga’s undergraduate degree was in Industrial Engineering and she currently works as a data scientist at PayPal, helping the company to avoid losses caused by hackers. Her graduate studies at Porter have been eye-opening, inspiring her to take a different direction in her professional life. In her free time she enjoys running, gardening and raising her 2 cats.

CherylPictureCheryl Poccia

Cheryl is a part time graduate student in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management program. She earned a BA in Psychology from Drexel University in 2007. Her background involves program management and business development. She was born and raised in rural upstate New York but now resides in the heart of New York City. With extensive research and study in natural resources and sustainability management, she is most interested in understanding urbanization challenges in growing cities with a level of conflict management. Having traveled globally, the Middle East is an area of the world she has the least exposure to and she is interested in the opportunity to learn from the communities in Jordan and Israel.

yael shemer columbia tourYael Shemer

Yael’s background is in languages, marketing, communications and education. Her professional experience includes working as a French teacher; a Project Manager at the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences; a teacher, founder and coordinator of the theoretical and practical film track at Amal High School, a Jewish-Arab high school in Lod; and also in various marketing and promotions roles at Red Bull and Harduf. She is also a film director and producer, specializing in documentary films, and was nominated to the list of the Knesset elections in 2014. Yael would like to join to the program given her interest and involvement in politics & public relations, and languages.

Alice Stevenson picAlice Stevenson

Alice is from Canada and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She studied Environment & Sustainability, with a focus on geopolitics, which led her to South Africa where she researched the politics of sustainable waste management. After returning from her yearlong stint in South Africa, she headed to Columbia University to pursue a master’s degree in Climate & Society, which she’ll be completing in August. Alice’s interests have always focused on the community and individual level impacts of politics and conflict and she is hoping to deepen her understanding of these impacts while in Israel and Jordan.

Pic for Columbia - Yaara TsairiYa’ara Tsairi earned a BA in International Relations and Education from the Hebrew University and is currently a master’s student in the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University. She became interested in the field of Environmental Studies after working in the Israeli education system and following a volunteering program in Nepal through “Tevel B’tzedek”, where she encountered first-hand the gaps between impoverished people and the developed world. She is currently doing an internship in “15 minutes – Public Transport Consumer Union in Israel”  where she tracks problems in public transportation that are raised through public complaints, works with the media and also offers solutions and improvements to the respective authorities. In addition she works as a nature instructor in the educational programs of The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

Allison VillegasAllison Villegas

Allison received her BA in Anthropology, Environmental Studies, and Human Rights from Hunter College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Climate and Society at Columbia University. Allison has had the chance to work in government offices, political centers, national labs, and research institutions. She is eager to learn about how environmental initiatives can aid in creating new partnerships that further innovation and peacebuilding.

This unique program, being offered for the fourth time this summer, is the product of a partnership between Columbia University’s Earth Institute and School of Professional Studies, and Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Studies and Center for Innovation in Transportation. It was organized in collaboration with Columbia’s Global Center in Amman, and significant contributions were made to the curriculum by Dr. Shahar Sadeh, who is a visiting scholar and the director of the Faculty Engagement Initiative at New York University. 


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