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Special Topics in Civil and Environmental Engrg (395-0-25)


Water in Arid Lands: Israel and the Middle East


Elie Rekhess
Crowe Hall 5-149
Professor Rekhess (Ph.D Tel-Aviv University) is one of Israel’s leading experts on the Arab minority in Israel, Jewish-Arab relations, Palestinian politics, and the Islamic resurgence in the West Bank and Gaza. He published extensively on these topics. He is presently the Visiting Crown Chair in Israel Studies at Northwestern University and Associate Director of the Crown Center for Jewish and Israel Studies. He teaches in Northwestern’s History Department. Professor Rekhess is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East Studies, at Tel-Aviv University. He headed Tel-Aviv University’s Adenauer Program for Jewish-Arab Cooperation (1995-2010). A regular public lecturer and television commentator on Arab issues in Israel and the Middle East. He served as a strategic advisor to Ehud Barak during his election campaign (1999) and as an advisor to the Ministerial committee on the Arabs in Israel (1999-2000).

Aaron Packman
2145 N. Sheridan / Tech A314
Office Hours:
Aaron Packman is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Center for Water Research at Northwestern University.Dr. Packman is an internationally recognized expert in water resources, surface-groundwater interactions, and biological and biogeochemical processes in aquatic systems. Dr. Packman’s research team is working to solve a variety of problems, including nutrient pollution, urban flooding, ecosystem degradation & restoration, and waterborne disease transmission. He currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Smart Great Lakes Initiative, as well as its Science, Technology, and Innovation team.

Meeting Info

Annenberg Hall G29: Wed 4:00PM - 6:50PM

Overview of class

This seminar will explore how the availability of water has shaped the development of civilizations and driven innovation in water technologies. The course will investigate historical dimensions of water in Israel and the Middle East, focusing on ancient civilizations and the water infrastructures that are essential tools in aiding the development of water-poor societies. We will use this historical context as a stepping-stone to transition into a more recent history of the Middle East, focusing on the challenges that the nascent state of Israel faced following the influx of millions of immigrants. We will then examine efforts to develop the necessary water resources needed to support the burgeoning population as we as the irrigation projects designed to convert barren desert land into cultivated agriculture. This more recent history will help to set the stage for discussions regarding geopolitical conflicts over land and water that continue to this day. We will evaluate regional climate and water in the context of current and future geopolitical conflicts, reviewing recent advances in water technologies spurred by these limitations as well as the potential development of combined social and technological solutions for long-term water sustainability in Israel and the Middle East. We will end the course with solutions developed in Israel to other water-poor regions. in addition, the course will host a symposium featuring international experts. It will explore how water access and control contributes to trans-boundary politics and how recent advances in Israel water technologies may serve as a model for sustainable water development in other water-poor regions of the world.

Registration Requirements

Juniors, seniors, and grad students in any school Freshman and sophomores may be able to enroll with a permission number is space is available.

Learning Objectives

The course will provide an overview of the climatic and geographical limitations on water availability in Israel and the Middle East, discuss ancient and modern societal responses to these limitations and define opportunities for development of sustainable solutions for regional stability and prosperity.

Evaluation Method

Written progress report and outline for seminar paper: 20%

Final Paper: 30%

Weekly Position papers: 25%

Presentations & Discussion Participation: 25%

Class Materials (Required)

None: Reading materials will be distributed through CANVAS

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for Students who are Juniors, Seniors, or Graduate students in any school