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The Bona Terra Department of Man in the Desert brings together social scientists, architects, and urban planners in one integrated academic framework. Experience proves that sustainable development in drylands requires solutions that are appropriate to the climate and physical environment and are likewise compatible with cultural, socio-economic, and political considerations unique to dryland societies.  

Examples of the diverse problems of desert habitation which are studied in depth by our faculty and students include:

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​The life-cycle energ​y efficiency of buildings and their components, with an emphasis on passive and low-energy systems for heating and cooling, indoor air quality, and thermal and visual comfort

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​The mutual effects of urban design and microclimate in built-up areas, focusing on surface energy balance, pedestrian thermal comfort and resource-efficient landscape strategiesbalance, pedestrian thermal comfort and resource-efficient landscape strategiesthermal comfort and resource-efficient landscape strategieslandscape strategies

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​Policy mechanisms for encouraging energy conservation and reduced environmental impact

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​The shaping, framing, diffusion, and evolution of technologies and concepts related to dryland contexts

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​The political ecology of environmental change

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​ Behavioral and cultural aspects of resource consumption in the built environment

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​Technological and political issues related to transport and mobility at urban and regional scales

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​Anthropological and social analysis of culture and society in the Negev, including the study of Bedouin communities, development towns, and other unique settlement formsBedouin communities, development towns, and other unique settlement formsdevelopment towns, and other unique settlement formssettlement forms

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​ Human ecology of people living in drylands, use of environmental resources through time, climate and landscape changes, desert archaeology and comparative anthropology in relation to the environment

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​Comparative documentation of pastoralist and nomadic populations in desert regions in Israel and abroad abroad

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​Processes of drought and desertification, and planning policies designed to deal with them - including contingency planning and interactive crisis managementincluding contingency planning and interactive crisis management​

Much of the department's work emphasizes applied issues in dryland settings, and in addition to academic research, its faculty members are engaged as consultants and designers for selected development projects in Israel and abroad. Architectural projects are used for monitoring, testing, and analysis, as well as for the public demonstration of accumulated expertise, and social and economic development projects allow researchers to draw on their practical engagement to advance knowledge in the social sciences