The Dead Sea is shrinking as a result of mining for raw materials and the loss of fresh water inflow from the diversion of the Jordan River for drinking water by Syria, Israel and Jordan. This shrinkage is problematic for economic, environmental and cultural reasons for both Jordan and Israel, the two countries which share borders with the sea.
After a late arrival in Amman, Jordan on Sunday night, students in the Regional Environmental Sustainability in the Middle East program hit the ground running on Monday morning. An orientation at the Columbia University Middle East Center was followed by presentations at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature office.
Nine Columbia students traveled to the Middle East last weekend to learn about how two countries in the region, Jordan and Israel, are cooperating on environmental issues and managing shared natural resources such as water. The students, led by Beth Fisher Yoshida, academic director of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program, and Shahar Sadeh, academic coordinator, will spend one week in each country as part of a new summer field study program.
This summer, 10 Columbia University students will have the opportunity spend two weeks in Jordan and Israel, learning about how environmental issues span geographical boundaries; how political conflicts create, sustain and escalate these problems; and the role the environment can play in future negotiations toward constructive and peaceful outcomes.