Read about OSU students’ experiences as they travel through the Middle East.

Oregon State student Sarah Sheldrick is among the students who traveled to Israel and Palestine this term. In this photo she stands on the border of Syria.
Oregon State student Sarah Sheldrick is among the students who traveled to Israel and Palestine this term. In this photo she stands on the border of Syria.

Imagine a dry, ancient place that is known mostly for its modern-day political strife and bloodshed. Imagine several sources of water — all precious and needed — that ignore political boundaries. And imagine conflicts over water like we experience in Oregon, between rural and urban users and concerned environmentalists. But imagine them in an area of absolute scarcity, where some people don’t even have enough water to drink.

Then imagine going there to learn how people manage these issues in their day-to-day lives. That’s what a group of 19 Oregon State University students is doing right now, as they travel through Israel and Palestine studying the geography and geology of the Middle East’s water supply and sources, as well as how those factors affect cities, agriculture and, ultimately, politics.

“It felt natural to take the students there to look at these separate issues, and then look at them together,” says geosciences professor Aaron Wolf, who lived in Israel for 10 years, and who is the faculty adviser for the group. “I think all of them will get a much more nuanced view of the region.”

The group, all of whom are members of the Oregon State Geo Club or Hydrophiles, is blogging about the trip, which includes meeting with stakeholders, as well as with groups like Friends of the Earth Middle East, an organization that makes tremendous progress in water conflict management.

“It’s stuff you never hear about, which is so sad,“ says Wolf. “But day in and day out, there is a huge amount of interaction and cooperation with resource management that nobody here knows about because the conflict supersedes everything.”

Read the Geo Club and Hydrophiles’ Trip Blog.

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