Fostering Planet-Centric Change

Lauded for its commitment to sustainability, the university continues to be a leader among its peers in terms of environmentally-friendly initiatives

Published: Wed 23 Nov 2022, 12:07 PM

Sustainability is of strategic importance to American University of Sharjah (AUS), with the university leading sustainability initiatives in the region’s higher education sector over recent years. In 2020, AUS became the first university in the UAE to ban single-use plastics on campus. The university has recently launched its first Climate Action Plan, which will align AUS’ efforts with the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 initiative.

At a student level, EcoReps—students with a desire to promote sustainable change on campus—are an integral part of campus life, with these volunteers educating the broader AUS community on issues such as waste reduction and energy conservation. Students can also make sustainability a key part of their academic experience, regardless of their chosen major, with AUS offering a total of 23 undergraduate and 18 graduate courses focused on solving sustainability challenges.

AUS researchers are also at the heart of many ground-breaking projects helping to minimise the impacts of climate change and pollution, with 24 per cent of AUS faculty engaged in research related to sustainability. From using ionic liquids to clean caustic wastewater to developing a mathematical model to enhance the effectiveness of solar panels, AUS researchers are fostering solutions to some of this generation’s most pressing environmental challenges.

For this year’s COP27 event held in Egypt, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment invited AUS representatives to join the official UAE delegation, with a group of four AUS students presenting at the event’s UAE Pavilion about bringing sustainability into the classroom. AUS also expects to play an important role at COP28, to be held in the UAE next year.

AUS has been internationally recognised for its commitment to sustainability. In 2018, the university was the first in the GCC to be rated for sustainability, earning a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System bronze award for sustainability in higher education from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Recently, AUS was named as one of the top five institutions worldwide for community engagement in sustainability by the 2022 Sustainable Campus Index issued by AASHE.

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