Great concern about the devastating effects of climate change and damage to the environment around the world has led Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev in Beersheba to create Israel’s first School of Sustainability and Climate Change.
BGU scientists in their separate departments have until now tackled challenges such as lack of fresh water, food security, sustainable agriculture, and advanced heating and cooling systems, to name just a few. Now, their experience will be made available to students through the new School, with focus on topics such as renewable natural resources, environmental and sustainability policy and management.
The multidisciplinary approach, said university president Prof. Chamovitz, “will strengthen research being carried out in fields like water, food security, clean energy, environmental engineering, public health, smart cities and social justice.”
The School, which builds on more than five decades of research and cross-disciplinary expertise, will offer a number of tracks for undergraduate and graduate students from Israel and abroad and prepare them for the increasing variety of jobs that deal with aspects of this crisis. The mission is to provide them with a wide range of tools to develop practical and sustainable solutions in the framework of international research.
“It’s a natural step for the university, — acknowledged globally for its environmental, energy and sustainability research – to harness that research in service to humankind’s greatest challenges. We will be investing additional resources and recruiting partners to generate the next generation of climate and environmental solutions,” added Chamovitz.
“The University is uniquely suited to creating such a School because of its vast research experience, its desert location, and its problem-oriented approach. Climate change is this generation’s great challenge,” he said. “What was once a local problem has transformed into a global crisis. We need experts to collaborate and think outside the box to turn local approaches into global solutions. Large scale desalination and drip irrigation, climate-adapted agriculture and advanced energy technologies emerged out of necessity here in the Negev.”
The BGU president noted that survival in the desert has always been predicated on human ingenuity, and – given the challenges facing the world – “we are committed to sharing our knowledge through the creation of the School of Sustainability and Climate Change at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.”
Prof. Yaron Ziv, a member of the steering committee of the new School, concluded that “researchers have a critical role to play in tackling climate change. Our School offers an innovative approach: Synergy among all the researchers in the field. Researchers and students will take advantage of this creative dynamic to make unique contributions, such that the sum will be greater than its parts. We will offer attractive dual-department degrees and we are already working on creating collaborations with industry, the government and international organizations.”