NYU Sustainability lecture broaches environmental policy

via cusa.uci.edu


The NYU Office of Sustainability hosted a public lecture Thursday, Oct. 17 titled From Crisis to Sustainability: Environment, Conflict and Peace.

Geared toward students in the College of Arts and Science’s environmental studies program, the lecture was given by Richard Matthew, a professor at the Schools of Social Ecology and Social Science at the University of California, Irvine.

The event was part of a larger effort by the Office of Sustainability to raise awareness of environmental issues among the NYU community.

When selecting the speaker, the Office of Sustainability sought an individual who reflected the lecture’s goals and had the ability to address operational aspects of sustainability as well as academia and research.

During the lecture, Matthew spoke about environmental policy, its connection to politics and economics, and realities of the century including population growth, allocation of food and water management.

Drawing on his experience, as the founding director of the Center of Unconventional Security Affairs at Irvine, and his environmental field research at the United Nations, Matthew also spoke about the role of post-Cold War regional conflicts in shaping today’s environmental issues. His personal experience and difficulties with his UN fieldwork in Sierra Leone and Rwanda constituted a large part of the discussion.

The lecture was part of an all-day event, which included a private breakfast with the Office of Sustainability, where Matthew learned about NYU’s sustainability efforts and offered advice. He also dined with faculty from the environmental studies department and offered advice on curriculum. The lecture in the evening was reserved for student and public interaction.

“I think that it’s important for people to know that we are inviting somebody, not just to come here and talk for a couple of hours, but that they’re spending a whole day with different people, from operations, academia, to the students in the evening,” said Ozgem Ornektekin, director of the NYU Office of Sustainability.

Divina Li, an LSP sophomore, said Matthew illuminated the real-life implications of global environmental work through recounting his own experiences. She said the lecture’s subject matter demonstrated future potential in environmental professions.

“You see how long it takes to actually implement programs and how sponsors only care about quantifying the work done and not actually taking the social and cultural aspects [of environmental policy] into concern,” Li said.

Andrew Spohn is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]