Skip to content

Programs : Brochure

This page is the brochure for your selected program. You can view the provided information for this program on this page and click on the available buttons for additional options.
  • 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. 

Program Calendar

Arrival Date:  Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Departure Date: Sunday, December 22, 2019

ICA Israel Geodesic Dome

*Students may extend their travel independently before or after program dates.

Tentative Itinerary Overview

Tuesday, December 10

  • Travel Day
Wednesday, December 11
  • Arrive at Kibbutz Lotan. 
  • Orientation tour, introductions, opening circle, expectations and program schedule.
Thursday, December 12
  • Natural Building 1 – hands-on workshop on green building techniques
  • Team Building
  • Ecological Design 1 – environmental analysis, site, and climate
  • Evening – welcome dinner in the Tea House
Friday, December 13
  • Natural Building 2 – hands-on workshop on green building techniques
  • Lecture: Roots of the Crisis and the Holistic World View
  • Ecological Design 2 – passive solar and energy transfer
  • Introduction to design project
  • Join the Lotan community for Kabbalat Shabbat, Kiddush and a festive Shabbat meal
  • Optional – evening gathering in the pub
Saturday, December 14
  • Morning: Meet after breakfast to brainstorm about design project
  • Afternoon – free time to work on project or catch a ride to Eilat and dip your feet in the Red Sea
Sunday, December 15
  • Start building project
  • Permaculture 1 – the ethics of permaculture
  • Ecological Design 3 – technologies and materials
  • After dinner, enjoy a walk in the sand dunes of the desert
Monday, December 16
  • Testing soil for building purposes - hands-on workshop
  • Permaculture 2 – the ten principles
  • Introduction to design project
Tuesday, December 17
  • Southern Arava field trip to explore:ICA Israel Earth Straw Mix
    • Ancient copper mines at Timna Park
    • Ancient agriculture at Ein Evrona
    • Solar energy fields
    • Alternative energy technologies testing sites
  • Spend the night in a Bedouin village
Wednesday, December 18
  • Return to Kibbutz Lotan
  • Continue work on building project
  • Geodesic domes – hands-on workshop
  • After dinner, continue work on design project
Thursday, December 19
  • Collecting water from the landscape, marking out contour lines and swales – hands-on workshop
  • Continue work on building project
  • Straw bale theory and hands-on workshop
  • After dinner, continue work on design project
Friday, December 20
  • Alternative technologies for gray water and black water
  • Biogas – hand-on workshop
  • Tour of composting toilets and constructed wetlands
  • After dinner, continue work on design project
  • Farewell dinner at the Tea House
Saturday, December 21
  • The story of Lotan
  • Ecological economics and the economics of happiness
  • Present projects
Sunday, December 22
  • Global ecovillage networks, bioregions, and transition towns
  • Closing circle
  • Depart for Tel Aviv

Program Fee - $1,475

Due September 30, 2019: $500 Advance Payment
Due November 1, 2019: $975 Final Payment
*All payments are non-refundable unless declined admission or program cancels for unforeseen reasons.

Included in Program Fee:

ICA Israel Smoothing Dome

  • Lodging at Kibbutz Lotan
  • Lodging for overnight stay at Bedouin camp
  • All meals
  • Entry fees for field trips
  • On Call Emergency Assistance insurance

Not Included in Program Fee (estimated):

  • Round trip airfare to Israel $1200
  • Passport $140
  • Airport transfers $100
  • Transport to Kibbutz Lotan $100
  • Spending money $200
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.