As the flagship institution of the Negev, we've transformed Beer-Sheva into the cyber capital of the state and spearheaded the establishment of its Innovation District, a hub for research and development in the cutting-edge fields of digital health, desert tech, and cyber security. As well as serving as a magnet for a range of tech startups and companies, we are also the reason for the IDF's imminent relocation to Beer-Sheva of its elite units in intelligence and technology. Building on our unique relationship with the Air Force — all of whose cadets earn their degrees at BGU — the IDF's new Technology Campus will not only fuel new academia-industry collaborations, but also bring outstanding human capital to the region, strengthening its social and economic fabric dramatically.
We also leverage our location into expertise in fields from aquaculture to renewable energy, offering not only immediate benefits for the residents of the region, but also turning the Negev into a source of knowledge for the world and a leading supplier of cutting-edge technology. Scientists at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR), for example, are developing new methods for sustainable crop production and maximizing the potential of dryland conditions to produce biochemicals from microalgae. Meanwhile, our renowned research on coral reefs, combined with our planned undergraduate degree in SeaTech, will help us protect both our own ocean environment and marine ecologies around the globe even as we prepare graduates for Israel's and the world's emerging marine-tech industry. Together with our National Solar Energy Center in Sde Boker, which develops ways to harvest, store, and transfer energy, these and other groundbreaking research activities fulfill Ben-Gurion's vision for the desert to drive the future of Israel.
Education as the Path to Social Mobility
BGU takes as a primary goal the extension of educational opportunity to Negev residents, who in turn become professionals who strengthen the region's towns and communities. For example, we work with a range of stakeholders to encourage Bedouin youth's interest in higher education, and offer scholarships, special pre-academic programs, and even a support center for female Bedouin students to increase the odds of success in their studies. During the COVID pandemic, we designed a comprehensive approach—including financial, technological, academic, and psychological support and services—to ensure that as many of BGU's Bedouin students as possible continued on their path to an academic degree.
Our commitment to accessibility extends to Israel's southernmost city, as well: Students whose academic scores are not high enough for entry to our engineering, psychology, and social work programs can complete their first year in the Eilat campus's smaller, more supportive classes before transferring to Beer-Sheva to complete their degree. The Eilat campus also offers special programs for older students and for students who need to work full-time, opening doors to academia for entire populations in the Negev whose socio-economic status and geographic location would otherwise make a degree a distant dream.
Finally, our Jusidman Center for Youth — the only center for science enrichment in the entire southern region — brings students from across the periphery to campus to spark interest and cultivate talent in STEM fields, introduce higher education as an option, and prepare them for both IDF service and hi-tech professions that align with Israel's national needs. Programs like She Space, a first-of-its-kind educational space-science project, offer young women from the Negev a unique opportunity for personal growth and self-empowerment while developing a pipeline of new researchers for Israel in advanced scientific disciplines.
Healthy Individuals and Flourishing Communities
Founded to address the special health needs of the Negev, BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences uses education, basic and applied research, and innovative regional partnerships to change the health landscape of the region, even making it a national leader in such areas as nutrition, chronic illness, and infectious disease. And as the only university in Israel located directly across the street from a major hospital, BGU takes advantage of its closeness to Soroka University Medical Center (SUMC) to conduct problem-centric research whose benefits are transferred directly to Negev patients, and whose insights inform practice in all the region's clinics and hospitals.
Our unique Center for Women's Health Studies and Promotion conducts interdisciplinary research for use in clinical practices and community programs benefiting women of all backgrounds. The center's Em le'em (“Mom to Mom") volunteer program, for example, which to date has provided peer support to nearly 500 disadvantaged and new-immigrant Negev mothers in their first year of parenting, has been shown to reduce mental distress and increase positive outcomes for Negev families. The Department of Psychology's community clinic, meanwhile, offers low-cost therapy with experts who are sensitive to the diverse cultural and socioeconomic factors present in the Negev's communities.
Finally, BGU is a cultural resource for Beer-Sheva and the Negev: The new Writer's House in Honor of Amos Oz, for example, a project of our Heksherim — The Research Institute for Jewish and Israeli Literature and Culture in Beer-Sheva's Old City, serves as an academic center for research groups from Israel and around the world and a hub for literary events for southern residents of all ages. The Writer's House aims to instill a love of reading and learning in the citizens of the region, as well as to catalyze its cultural renewal.
And with the planned construction of the new Guzik Cultural Center on the North Campus, which will feature a state-of-the-art, 900-seat music hall, an auditorium, and an exhibition area showcasing prominent artists, BGU will bring artistic and cultural events normally confined to Israel's center to Beer-Sheva, for the benefit of all the Negev's residents.
Developing the Desert, Fulfilling a Dream
To continue to produce groundbreaking research for the region and to attract top-notch scientists, scholars, and students to BGU, we seek to provide more funding for faculty recruitment and for a range of scholarships. Moreover, by offering graduate fellowships to soldiers in elite intelligence and technology units, we can increase the odds of their settling in the Negev and contributing to its flourishing through their presence and careers. Together, we can be the desert's new pioneers, strengthening it from within so it can be a source of strength for the state.
Help us improve the Negev's economic, social, and cultural landscape >>