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Fostering a sustainable lifestyle: AUS students learn to eat green and prepare for COP28
American University of Sharjah (AUS) computer science student Shourya Maithani learned far more than how to make a delectable pita bread pizza during the recent Cooking for Climate classes that AUS Sustainability held on campus.
“The classes offered me valuable insights into the realm of sustainability and its profound impact on cooking practices. The classes not only expanded my culinary repertoire but also instilled in me the art of resourcefulness, demonstrating how one can maximize their culinary capabilities with minimal cooking utensils,” said Maithani.
Guided by Nathalie Montoya Curabba, AUS Sustainability Coordinator and accomplished Clinical Nutritionist and Chef, the cooking classes are part of the university’s efforts to instill in students the importance of a sustainable lifestyle while also offering them the opportunity to learn how to cook delicious recipes. Held as part of the AUS’ Week of Welcome student activities, the cooking classes were especially helpful for students, who are developing their independent living skills, raising their awareness about the relationship between food, climate change and sustainability.
“This was an exceptional experience that I would eagerly welcome on a recurring basis. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of hosting this event every semester, as it not only broadened my horizons but also left a lasting impression on the importance of sustainable cooking practices,” said Maithani.
The Cook for Change classes are part of Eating with Intent, a larger, ongoing campaign on campus.
“The campaign was developed to raise awareness about food and its bi-directional relationship to climate change. The cooking classes in the residential halls were a natural progression where the focus is on teaching students how to nourish themselves while also benefiting the planet. We focus on locally grown and raised whole foods, increasing food literacy, cooking skills and strategies, and developing communities around food,” said Curabba.
She added: "This year, we emphasized the connection between food and climate change specifically and demonstrated the ways in which our food choices make an enormous impact on the health of the environment, which incidentally impacts our personal health as well."
Dedicated to inspiring students to develop and lead a sustainable lifestyle, AUS Sustainability has been an active advocate through its many student-focused initiatives and faculty engagements.
As a member of the Universities Climate Network (UCN), a network comprising UAE-based universities and higher education institutions facilitating dialogues, workshops, public events and youth participation in the lead up to COP28, AUS has been rolling out several activities that raise awareness about the role of the youth in promoting sustainability and encouraging their participation in COP28 events, including a discussion session on “COP28: Why does it matter?" that was moderated by Julia A. Carlow, Acting Head of Sustainability, and featured student speakers Sameera Khan, AUS Sustainability EcoRep; Jahnavi Doshi, 18th Conference of Youth (COY18) Co-lead Organizer; Muhammad Junaid and Khadijah Minhas, Student Energy Summit Ambassadors; and Abdul Muqeet Abdul Mannan, United Nations Children's Fund Climate Change Youth Advocate.
Doshi, an AUS senior student and COY18 Co-lead Organizer, noted that organizing an event that embraces the perspectives of international youth and operates through consensus every step of the way is a significant endeavor.
“It's a transformative experience witnessing diverse cultures unite for a shared and profoundly relevant cause. AUS has been instrumental in my deep involvement in sustainability by providing crucial support, including internal communication, funding and invaluable letters of support. Serving as an EcoRep, which eventually led to my role as a United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education Initiative Regional Leader, and leading The Higher Education Climate Dialogues Conference and AUS paved the path for me to represent our institution at COY18,” she added.
To learn more about AUS sustainability initiatives, visit www.aus.edu/sustainability.