AUS faculty showcase sustainable education initiatives at COP28: Bridging research, curriculum design and youth engagement


(MENAFN- American University Of Sharjah ) Sharjah, UAE. November 30, 2023 – Drawing on their expertise in sustainability, environmental science and climate change, faculty members at American University of Sharjah (AUS) are poised to provide significant research contributions, pioneering solutions and intellectual guidance to the discussions and initiatives at COP28.

Their active participation in panels and collaborative efforts with global stakeholders showcases AUS’ commitment to addressing climate challenges, aligning its efforts with the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 strategic imitative and enhancing the collective understanding and action towards achieving sustainable outcomes through education.

Dr. Norita Ahmad, Professor of Information Systems and Business Analytics, and Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, is organizing a session on curriculum design and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and is part of a workshop with the UNICEF Office of Innovation on developing green skills in children and youth learners using a game-based learning approach. She is also a jury panel member in the Masdar global initiative Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S), which is part of the four-month program for youth that aims to accelerate the development of 10 innovative solutions that can help tackle the most pressing climate and energy-related issues.

“As educators and researchers, we play a crucial role in shaping the future of sustainable practices and mindsets. COP28 provides a platform to share best practices, collaborate with like-minded peers, and hopefully influence policy decisions. Our involvement can bridge the gap between research and actionable strategies, fostering a more sustainable and informed approach to education at both local and global levels. By actively engaging in COP28, we can help highlight the region's achievements, share innovative approaches, and foster collaborations that align with the UAE's sustainability goals,” she said.

Dr. May Zaki, Associate Professor in Arabic and Translation Studies and certified trainer with the Association for Learning Design and Education for Sustainable Development, is joining Dr. Ahmad in the discussion on curriculum design and ESD, which she described as a “cross-cutting” topic in all areas of education “since it can be directly translated into curriculum enhancements, ensuring that educational programs align with current global sustainability goals and challenges.”

“Let's not forget that faculty members and researchers play a pivotal role in shaping educational policies. By participating in COP28, we can contribute evidence-based research and advocate for policies that integrate sustainability into education systems on various levels,” said Dr. Zaki.

Organizing and moderating panels throughout five days of the conference is Dr. Fatin Samara, Professor in Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences. While she will discuss impactful climate interventions through transformative innovations in the education sector and the opportunities and potential for integrating actions for climate and biodiversity, Dr. Samara is particularly focused on the role of scientific research and research networks in climate change collaborations and youth education. Organized by Dr. Samara in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), Abu Dhabi University and Umm Al Quwain University, the session highlights the role of education in accelerating research and discoveries in areas related to climate change and sustainability, spotlighting how research has contributed to climate action knowledge among youth.

Dr. Samara is also organizing and facilitating a session in collaboration with MOCCAE’s Climate Change Research Network, which she co-chairs, on gap analysis on climate change research in the UAE, gathering the region’s experts on climate research and climate change studies to discuss the challenges and advances in climate change research. Also participating in this session are AUS faculty members Dr. Ivonne Bejarano, Assistant Professor in Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences; Dr. Yuting Wang, Professor and Head of the Department of International Studies; and Dr. Adil Al-Tamimi, Professor in Civil Engineering.

“The outcomes of these sessions are expected to foster collaborative initiatives between local, regional and international experts to enhance the research in areas of importance, but where current advances are lacking and to encourage commitments from policy makers to support scientific research in gap areas,” said Dr. Samara.

Taking part in Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Roundtable on Catalyzing Decarbonization: Digitalization and Strategy Technology is Dr. Fadi Aloul, Dean of the AUS College of Engineering (CEN). He will discuss the key challenges and opportunities for engineering students and professionals in contributing to decarbonization efforts in the Middle East and beyond and how academic institutions can play a pivotal role in fostering collaboration between students and industries to address the technical challenges of decarbonization.

“We are working on changing the mindset of students and spreading a culture that makes them think of sustainability in everything they do, which means acquiring a better understanding of climate change, its impact and challenges. This is our role as an academic institute. Further, our research confronts challenges in navigating the transition towards sustainable energy, and we at AUS are engaged in multifaceted research to understand the many dimensions of this shift and developing methodologies that integrate social, economic and environmental considerations to create comprehensive frameworks for sustainable energy adoption. CEN continues to partner with Schneider Electric, synergizing efforts to advance sustainable practices through a combination of student training and cutting-edge research initiatives, and we are happy to be contributing to the global climate dialogue in COP28,” said Dr. Aloul.

From December 10-12, visitors to the Greening Education Hub, hosted by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Greening Education Partnership with its secretariat at UNESCO, can also learn about the sustainability-focused research of AUS faculty, including the prominent work of the university’s Dana Gas Chair in Chemical and Biological Engineering, Petrofac Research Chair in Renewable Energy and Riad T. Sadek Chair in Civil Engineering. AUS’ commitment to advanced research and academic excellence is also underscored as it spotlights its PhD programs in bioscience and engineering, and materials science and engineering, as well as its three newly established research institutes: the Energy, Water and Sustainable Environment Research Center in the College of Engineering; the Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainable Development in the School of Business Administration; and the Materials Research Center in the College of Arts and Sciences.

AUS students will also be tackling some of the issues closest to the hearts of the youth at the First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) Pavilion in the Climate Finance Hub, from youth ambitions for climate action, climate impact on culture and national identity, eco-anxiety and eco-grief in a climate crisis, to smart cities and UAE youth perspectives on learnings from COP. They will also take part in a special edition of the Global Youth Forum, under the theme "Empowering Youth for Sustainability", in celebration of the “Year of Sustainability, held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Bin Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.

For details on AUS faculty participation in COP28, visit

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