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  • Locations: Lotan, Israel
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: Drexel applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Class Eligibility: Junior, Pre-Junior, Senior Type of Program: Intensive Course Abroad
Click here for a definition of this term Program Advisor: Ahaji Schreffler
Program Description:
Program Overview | Academics | Program Calendar | Program Fee | More Information

Winter Break in Israel:
Ecological Design & Sustainable Natural Building

ICA Israel Eco Domes

Program Overview

This course will provide students with an intensive hands-on training integrating ecological design, natural building, alternative technologies, and community living.  The program is held at Kibbutz Lotan in partnership with the Center for Creative Ecology (CCE), which is a research, training, and demonstration center for sustainability that focuses on energy efficient construction using natural materials.  During the course students will participate in classes and hands-on workshops on topics including ecological design, natural building, community building, renewable energy, and natural waste water treatment.  Students will learn about designing, building, and running sustainable projects and link together ecological, social, economic and cultural aspects of sustainability.  During the course, students will complete a local or community design project that incorporates the principles of ecological design.  The project will be completed for evaluation during winter quarter.

Students will live in the Eco-Campus at Kibbutz Lotan, which is a prototype model for sustainable community.  Living quarters are passive design, super-insulated straw-bale and earth plastered geodesic domes that use 70% less energy than similar structures built using conventional construction.  The mission of the Eco-Campus is to teach and empower program participants to live an ecological lifestyle, to maintain a low carbon footprint and to advance environmentally appropriate housing and technologies.

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Explain the principles of ecological design;
  • Demonstrate the role of environmental analysis, site and climate in ecological design;
  • Explain how energy transfer due to passive solar design results in significant energy savings;
  • Explain different technologies and materials available for natural building;
  • Explain how these techniques can be applied in urban environments;
  • Explain the importance of community-building in achieving sustainable communities; and,
  • Apply the knowledge gained to a design project that incorporates ecological design on a local or community level.


Credit/Registration: Students will be registered for CIVE T480 for 3 credits as a part of their winter term course load. Students must leave space for these 3 credits in their schedule or will otherwise be billed for exceeding the 20-credit term maximum.

Instructor: This program will be led by Dr. Patricia Gallagher, P.E., Associate Professor in Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering in partnership with faculty from the Center for Creative Ecology at Kibbutz Lotan.

Pre-requisite: None. All undergraduate majors are welcome to apply for this program. The course is open to pre-junior, junior, and senior students.

Course Requirements: Prior to departure, students will be required to meet with the instructor twice to prepare for the course. Onsite, students are expected to attend and fully participate in all lectures, hands-on workshops, field trips, and group activities.  Students will select, conduct research and begin a design project while onsite and will present their project at the end of the stay. The project will incorporate the principles of ecological design on a local or community project.  Upon returning to Drexel, the final design projects will be submitted for grading. 

2020 Program Calendar

Arrival:  Sunday, December 13th (depart U.S. Saturday, Dec. 12th)
Departure: Thursday, December 24th (depart Israel around midnight for overnight flight with US arrival mid-afternoon Dec. 24th)
Students are responsible for any independent travel arrangements before or after program dates.

Tentative Itinerary Overview

ICA Israel Geodesic DomeSaturday, December 12

  • Travel to Israel

Sunday, December 13
  • Arrive at Kibbutz Lotan. 
  • Orientation tour, introductions, opening circle, expectations, and program schedule
  • Welcome Dinner: Pitta experience in the Eco Park
Monday, December 14
  • Natural Building 1 – Hands-on workshop – green building techniques
  • Introduction to Permaculture
  • Team Building
Tuesday, December 15
  • Hands-on workshop – low energy cooking systems: solar ovens and rocket stoves
  • Lecture: Roots of the Crisis and the Holistic World View
  • Ecological Design 1 – environmental analysis, site, and climate
  • Introduction to design project
Wednesday, December 16
  • Natural Building 2 – hands-on workshop on green building techniques
  • Ecological economics and the economics of happiness
  • Ecological Design 2 – passive solar and energy transfer
Thursday, December 17
  • Hands-on workshop – introduction to biogas
  • The story of Lotan as an intentional community
  • Ecological Design 3 – technologies and materials
Friday, December 18
  • Field trip to Kibbutz Ketura – renewable energy projects in the southern Arava region
  • Desert walk
  • Natural calendars: mandala of the seasons
  • Join the Lotan community for Kabbalat Shabbat (welcoming the Sabbath) and a festive Shabbat meal (optional)
Saturday, December 19
  • Field trip to Mitzpeh Ramon and Bedouin villageICA Israel Earth Straw Mix
Sunday, December 20
  • Alternative technologies for gray water and black water; tour of composting toilets and constructed wetlands
  • Geodesic domes – hands-on workshop
  • The building and evolution of the EcoCampus as a case study for sustainable off-grid living
  • Evening – Team Building
Monday, December 21
  • Introduction to organic gardening
  • Collecting water from the landscape, marking out contour lines and swales – hands-on workshop
  • The Global Ecovillage Network, bioregions, Transition Towns
  • Farewell dinner with Lotan faculty
Tuesday, December 22
  • Project presentations and closing circle
  • Depart for Jerusalem, stopping at Dead Sea
  • Stay over in Jerusalem
Wednesday, December 23
  • Sightseeing in Jerusalem
  • Depart for Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport
Thursday, December 24
  • Depart Tel Aviv for US around midnight
  • Arrive US mid-afternoon Thursday, December 24, 2020  

Program Fee - $2,370

Due September 30, 2020: $600 Advance Payment
Due November 1, 2020: $1,770 Final Payment
*All payments are non-refundable unless declined admission or program cancels for unforeseen reasons.

Included in Program Fee:

ICA Israel Smoothing Dome

  • Room and board for 9 nights in the Eco-Campus at Kibbutz Lotan
  • Field trip to visit renewable energy research projects at Kibbutz Ketura
  • Field trip to Mitzpeh Ramon and a Bedouin village
  • Overnight field trip to visit Dead Sea and Jerusalem
  • One night of lodging in Jerusalem
  • Entrance fees for tour attractions and museums
  • Round trip public transport from Ben Gurion airport to Kibbutz Lotan
  • All meals
  • On Call Emergency Assistance insurance

Not Included in Program Fee (estimated):

  • Round trip airfare to Israel $1,200
  • Passport $140
  • Airport transfers $100
  • Transport to Kibbutz Lotan $100
  • Spending money $200
  • US Passport $140
ICA Financial Aid: Students may request an Adjusted Cost of Attendance by submitting the ICA program fee and estimated out of pocket expenses listed above to Drexel Central (via askdrexel). Doing so could make students’ eligible for additional financial aid.  Students may also be eligible to apply for Drexel's ICA Scholarships.

More Information

  • Travel logistics:  Upon arrival, students will need to take public transit from Ben Gurion airport to Kibbutz Lotan.  Depending on flight arrangements, students may need to arrive in Tel Aviv on December 9, 2019 and an overnight stay in Tel Aviv may be required.  These costs are not included in the program costs.  Detailed instructions for using public transit will be provided.
  • Students will be given a suggested flight itinerary and are responsible for booking their own airfare.

Course Grading Scale

A+ 98-100
A 93-97
A- 90-92
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 73-76
C- 70-72
D+ 67-69
D 60-66
F 0-59


Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.