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School of Environmental Studies

The New Wave of Environmentalism in the Gulf

Resource stress, pollution and climate change all threaten to aggravate instability and inequality in the Gulf, but have so far failed to capture public imagination. Now a wave of grassroots initiatives is trying to change this. Springing up in response to local problems, often employing Islamic narrative and spreading through Facebook, the movement is characteristic of the Gulf’s new generation and its rapidly evolving approach to ecology.

“It’s growing like crazy” says the effusive Khayra Bundakji of the environmental movement in Saudi Arabia’s coastal city of Jeddah. A surprising fact, perhaps, in a country not known for its ecological values. What’s more, women are leading the movement. Of the 17 groups Bundakji found active in Jeddah on environmental issues, 15 of them were initiated by women.

Bundakji, a computer science major and internet blogger, founded Faseelah, Effat University’s first Islamic environmentalism organization in 2010. She also works with Naqa’a (purity), the brainchild of two nursing students, which calls itself a youth driven “environmental enterprise.” Naqa’a's educational campaigns emphasize “the three Rs”-reduce, reuse, recycle-of the western mantra, the Islamic duty of stewardship over the environment, as well as concepts of purity and reining in excessive consumption.

Despite these examples, the environmental movement is still a small world, composed mainly of the educated middle class. Exposure to ecologically conscious societies in the West and efforts in other Gulf cities are the most commonly cited influences feeding the Gulf’s environmental movement, according to Bundakji, who lived in the US and Dubai for 11 years.

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Developing an Environmental Career

Green jobs, green industry, green collar – all are catch phrases for the new businesses and industry sectors developing that are based on the notion of sustainability.   The concept has been represented for years by the recycling process applied to cans, bottles and paper.  Today, the concept is being applied to multiple areas where humans have impact on the environment, damaging naturally occurring sustainable ecosystems.  Measures to reduce the causes of global warming are the most public example of environmental endeavors at the moment.

Environmental careers vary tremendously but all of them are working towards the goal of reducing human impact on existing sustainable ecosystems.  Engineers that work with industries attempting to reduce their output of greenhouse gases are an example of an environmental professional working with a business that has committed to taking a step toward sustainability.  You’ll find environmental engineers working in government agencies on cleaning up hazardous waste, bringing companies into compliance with clean water and clean air standards, and designing new wastewater treatment plants.

A bachelor’s degree in environmental science will give you access to entry level positions in the field.  Tasks may include collecting data for a clean water study or a site with possible hazardous material on it.  Many people in the environmental field try to find a job with a bachelor’ s degree while continuing to work on a master’s  degree in the field.

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The John Muir Learning Garden Brightens San Francisco Schools

Purpose of the Learning Garden

The John Muir Learning Garden is designed to give San Francisco Schools students a change to take learning further outside of the classroom. The Garden builds on the fundamental curriculum concerns of the elementary school and provides an opportunity for students to gain real life experience that complements their academic studies. San Francisco school students are able to integrate classroom literacy, mathematics, science, history, and language arts instruction through their participation in activities in the Learning Garden.

The Learning Garden reaches out to the community in providing outreach services for parents, neighbors, and interested volunteers. Mentor gardeners work with teachers and students to design educational opportunities. One of the interesting projects going on now is the sustainable composting program that takes organic waste from San Francisco school lunches and uses it for fertilizing garden projects instead of filling landfills. This is just one of many projects that combine garden training with practical real world environmental concerns. The events organized in the park help students and the community learn about how to protect the local environment while studying nature in an urban setting.

Partners of the Learning Garden

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