Background 
Global Demand for Expertise in Desert Studies 
Curriculum 
Introductory Courses 
Specialization 
Research Project 
Course Requirements for M.Sc. in Desert Studies 
Who is Eligible? 
About the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research 
Tuition and Expenses 
Contact Us 
 

Background 
 
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert  Research is an acknowledged leader in desert studies, widely respected in  the international scientific community for the quality and creativity of  its research and training programs. In light of this global reputation and  the worldwide need for expertise in the field, BGU and the Blaustein  Institute have established the Albert Katz International School for Desert  Studies which offers a two-year program leading to a M.Sc. degree in desert studies. 
 
The faculty includes scientists from the Blaustein Institute, Ben-Gurion  University and leading scholars from the international community. The  innovative, multidisciplinary program is structured to provide an  integrated approach, offering students exceptional opportunities to pursue  basic research and track its application in the field. Students will become  familiar with a wide range of subjects designed to complement their major  areas of concentration. Graduates of the School may continue their studies  towards higher degrees; they will be supremely qualified to carry out  research, take responsible positions in the management of drylands and lead  the battle to combat desertification. 

Global Demand for Expertise in Desert Studies 

The loss of fertile land has aroused global concern, spurring increased interest in desert studies. The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro brought attention to the danger of desertification, which is defined as land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry-subhumid areas; it affects some 40% of global lands and nearly one billion people. Desertification is caused primarily by human activities; the earth's rapidly growing population is exhausting the fragile resources of dryland ecosystems. In the wake of the Earth Summit, the UN drew up the Convention to Combat Desertification - a multinational agreement which calls for an increase in research and education and the establishment of centers for information and training as major tools in combating desertification. 

Until recently, 'desert studies' did not exist as an academic discipline. The multi-disciplinary field was developed in response to the realization that desertification is increasing at an alarming rate (some half million hectares annually, an area the size of the state of Kansas). Desert studies as a discipline is likely to follow the same growth pattern as oceanography, which began as a subdiscipline of geography but rapidly grew into a separate scientific field. 

The Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies, located in the heart of the Negev Desert, presents an ideal venue for the M.Sc. Program in Desert Studies. 

The Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies, located on the Jacob Blaustein Institute campus in Sede Boqer, overlooks the breathtaking Zin Canyon. It is 400 meters above sea level with an annual average winter rainfall of 100mm. Summers are warm and dry, winters are mild. The Katz School has dormitories for both singles and families; it is a 50-minute drive from Beer-Sheva, two and a half hours from Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv and three hours from Eilat and Red Sea resort areas. 

Curriculum 
 
The multi-disciplinary program integrates basic and applied research, lectures and field studies and includes: 

Introductory Courses: These two-semester courses are designed to  familiarize students with areas of desert studies that lie outside their  fields of specialization. Students will be required to participate in three  introductory courses. 

Specialized Courses: Each student will take 6-8 courses in his or her major field of studies. 

Research Projects: The core of the program will be independent research. Each student will be guided by a faculty member and will submit a written thesis at the completion of the research project. 

Introductory Courses 

Students are required to take three introductory courses selected from the list below. The first course (A.1) is mandatory; the other two must be in fields outside the student's specialization. The two-semester introductory courses include two lectures weekly (4 credits per course for a total of 12 credits). 

Specialization 

The program offers five specializations: 

Students will choose six to eight courses (12 to 16 credits) in their selected majors. One-semester courses have two weekly lectures unless  otherwise noted. Students will also attend weekly seminars and complete at least one program of guided reading (2 credits for both activities).

Research Project 

The research project (12 credits) will be in the student's specialization. Written proposals must be submitted to the School's academic advisory committee for prior approval. 

Course Requirements for M.Sc. in Desert Studies

Subject Credits
Introductory courses 12
Seminar and guided reading 2
Courses in area of specialization 16
Research project 12
Total 42

Who is Eligible? 

For admission to the Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies in the first four specializations, applicants must hold a B.Sc. in science or engineering. For the fifth, a B.A. in social sciences or humanities, or an academic/professional degree in architecture is required. In order to qualify for acceptance, students must demonstrate proficiency in English (TOFEL examination will be required). 

About the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research 

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research was established some 20 years ago as Israel's national institute for desert research. It has matured into an internationally recognized research and teaching facility. Its 55 scientists and 100 Israeli and foreign graduate students conduct a balanced blend of basic and applied research into issues of regional and global importance. Primary areas of investigation include: 

The Dryland Environment: Environmental physics including meteorology, remote sensing, solar energy; Ecology of drylands, including conservation biology, environmental protection, ecophysiology, introduction of desert plants. 

Man in the Drylands: Social studies, architecture and regional planning, human habitats. 

Dryland Resource Management: Water and soil resources engineering and management, waste water treatment and management, biodegradation of environmental pollutants, environmental microbiology. 

Biological Production in the Drylands: Dryland agriculture, animal husbandry, aquaculture, controlled environment agriculture, algal biotechnology, tissue culture and micropropagation, desert plant biotechnology. 

The Institute's combination of highly qualified research staff, excellent facilities and extraordinary location attracts students and scientists from Israeli universities and from around the world. Recently the European Union endorsed the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research as a Large Scale Facility for Desert Studies, a prestigious acknowledgment of its international significance. 

The Institute's main research and teaching facilities are in Sede Boqer, in the Negev highlands. Its scientists and students also work in research stations and experimental facilities located in different parts of the Negev, thus the entire desert with its remarkable environmental diversity is its laboratory. 

For more information about the Jacob Blaustein Institute, its research activities and faculty visit the web site - http://wwww.bgu.ac.il/BIDR 

Tuition and Expenses

Tuition $ 4,000
Housing ($150/month x 12) 1,800
Health Insurance $500

Cost per Year: $6,300 

Total for Two Years: $12,600 

An additional $400-500 per month should cover local living expenses. 

Students may apply for scholarships from international organizations such as F.A.O., U.N.D.P., UNESCO and WHO. Contact their local representatives for more information. 

A limited number of scholarships partially covering tuition and living expenses may be available to outstanding students. For information about the application procedure please indicate your interest on the enclosed form. 

Contact Us 

For additional information regarding the Albert Katz School please fill out and return the enclosed form or contact: 

Prof. Avigad Vonshak, Director 
Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies 
Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research 
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev 
Sede Boqer Campus 
Israel 84990 

Tel:    972-7-6596-733 
Fax:    972-7-6596-704 

Email: dschool@bgumail.bgu.ac.il 
Web site: http://www.bgu.ac.il/BIDR/school/ 

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, with five faculties and over 13,000 students, plays a major role in the development of the human and physical resources of the region and has a distinguished record in cooperative research projects with countries throughout the world. Its main campus is in Beer-Sheva, 40 kilometers north of the Jacob Blaustein Institute's Sede Boqer campus.