Let’s Talk Sustainability

In the spirit of NYUAD’s Go Green Week, we highlight a few undergraduate courses that aim to promote and continue the discussion around sustainability and the environment.

Go Green Week is a weeklong program organized across the NYU campuses in Abu Dhabi, New York and Shanghai in an effort to raise awareness around matters of sustainability. 

Running from February 7 to 14, the initiative aims to raise awareness of environmental issues and sustainable development, and inspire others to take action, through a variety of events covering animal protection, ecological businesses, environmental NGOs, and food production.

In collaboration with the Student Government Sustainability Committee at NYU Abu Dhabi, we highlight some undergraduate courses that aim to promote and continue that discussion.

1. Foodways: Culture, Ethics, Sustainability
By Visiting Professor of Anthropology Jonathan Shannon.

We are not just what we eat, but how we eat, and how we procure what we eat. The course covers questions like “Is responsible eating a privilege or a human right?” and “How do patterns in the production, distribution, and consumption of food promote such subjectivities as race, class, gender, and nation?” In an era of industrial food production and global climate change, our decisions in our food choices have a direct impact in meeting challenges in food security, and sustainable development.

2. Environmental Justice and Urban Inequality
Full course description can be found under the list of courses in Social Research and Public Policy Major.

The course traces the origins of the uneven distribution of environmental problems across urban geographies, examines ways to measure environmental inequality, and analyzes how environmental issues shape social inequality. One of the case studies include Masdar City, the UAE’s attempt to construct the world’s first carbon-neutral city.

3. Global Sustainable Cities
Full course description can be found under the list of courses in Legal Studies Major.

Growing urbanization meant that cities and their residents have become major consumers of natural resources. But if urban growth is managed properly, cities also have the potential to be efficient and sustainable users of natural resources, especially in this era of advanced technology that allows for remote monitoring and control of resource use.

4. Fulfilling the Promise of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030
Full course description can be found under the list of courses in Political Science Major.

The course explores how, between now and 2030, the global community can fulfil the promises developed at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York. Students will examine the impact of the climate crisis, the influence of governance, state fragility, conflict, and more. 

5. Children, Youth and Sustainable Development of the World’s Cities
Full course description can be found under the list of courses in Social Research and Public Policy Major.

This course will consider innovations from around the world in making cities sustainable for children and youth — the future of sustainable societies. Topics include supporting youth livelihoods, learning and health programs, arts programs, infrastructure investments, environmental sustainability, transportation, migrant-origin youth, governance and innovation.

6. Water for Life
By Professor of Engineering and Director of NYUAD Water Research Center Nidal Hilal

Despite making up most of the Earth's surface, water remains a precious resource to which billions of people have little or no access. This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to the connections between water and society, including scientific, social, and economic perspectives.

7. Climate Change Law and Policy 
Full course description can be found under the list of courses in Legal Studies Major.

Climate change will be a foremost theme that will influence financial activities, and policy and legal framework for years to come. Climate change law is emerging as a new legal discipline. Students will explore how climate change law relates to other areas of law and how climate change has elicited the rulemaking process at the international, regional, national and local levels.

8. Multispecies Living and the Environmental Crisis
By Associate Professor of Anthropology George Jose.

Our notions of "development" and "progress," our conception of natural resources, our relationship to the technocratic imagination have all contributed to the making of the Age of the Anthropocene, in which human agency reshapes our environment. This course engages with a range of approaches that re-conceptualize the relationship of humans with nature. It studies the environmental consequences of urbanization, resource frontiers, extractive industries, the quest for sustainable energy, human-animal conflict, and the politics of conservation.

9.  Bioinspiration
By Associate Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering; Program Head of Bioengineering Rafael Song.

In the 3.8 billion years since life began on Earth, nature has evolved. Inspired by this process, humans have replicated key design features to develop novel materials, devices, and structures in fields such as the arts, design, engineering, and the social sciences by replicating key design principles and features. This course asks how biology has inspired human design and thinking across different cultures and fields.


Beniamin Strzelecki (NYUAD Class of 2023) and Katie Glasgow-Palmer (NYUAD Class of 2021) are part of the Student Government Sustainability Committee at NYUAD. 

The committee is made up of students in different areas of study with the goal to voice student concerns and commitment to sustainability in order to lead the NYUAD campus community towards greater environmental responsibility. Its ultimate mission is to reduce the NYUAD community’s environmental footprint by switching to more sustainable materials, methods and mindsets while preserving student interests, and facilitate dialogue and transparency between students and faculty on environmental topics.