Several IGESP graduates are currently at AUB, including May Massoud (MS
’00), who is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences
(FHS). She has done extensive research in the privatization of waste management
services in Lebanon—specifically on municipal solid waste and wastewater—and
speaks passionately about the “keen appreciation and lifetime love of
research” that the program instilled in her.
Safa Hojeij (BS ’03, MS ’06) joined FHS as a research assistant after
completing the IGESP to work on the project in a local community (Bebnine)
that she describes as a wonderful opportunity to put into practice one
of the most important lessons she learned during the program: “There are
many factors that contribute to a problem or issue and that must be considered
in finding solutions.” She and her colleagues at FHS are still investigating
the links between people and all sources of water in Bebnine, assessing
the impact of drinking water quality on the health of the community, and
disseminating this information through workshops and awareness campaigns.
IGESP alumni are also well represented among governmental agencies such
as the Executive Council of the Government of Dubai where Reem Fayyad
(BS ’97, MS ’00) has been working since August 2006 as a project manager
in the Policy and Strategy Department’s Sustainable Development Unit.
Fayyad says that the exposure that the program provided “to a wide scope
of matters in the environment field” enables her to “identify high level
elements in the sector in an integrated way”—skills that were also useful
in her prior position at the Lebanese Ministry of Environment. Amal Abou
Hatab (MS ’03) is working on a project entitled “the integrated waste
management for the olive oil pressing industries in Lebanon, Syria, and
Jordan,” which is being managed by the UNDP and implemented by the Ministries
of Environment in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Rania Maroun (BS ’00, MS ’04) is grateful for the opportunity she had
during the IGESP to work on “real case studies, which exposed me to environmental
consulting and taught me how to write professional reports.” She says,
“By the time I graduated, I felt that I was equipped with the necessary
tools and skills to pursue a career in academia or in consulting.” As
director of ECODIT Liban, Karim El-Jisr (BS ’97, MS ’99) has been involved
in a wide range of environmental projects including the establishment
of the Lebanon Mountain Trail (see box) and several assessments to improve
waste management services in Lebanon and the Arab region.
A number of IGESP alumni also work in the nonprofit sector in Lebanon
and the Arab world. Wael Hmaidan (BS ’99) is the founder and executive
director of IndyACT, a group of environmental, social, and cultural activists
in the Arab World. Hmaidan, who was the Arab campaigner for Greenpeace
for many years, has led several environmental campaigns including the
Arab Climate Campaign and the Zero Waste in the Arab World Campaign. He
is also the cohost and writer of a reality environmental show on the Future
News satellite channel, which highlights different environmental issues
in a proactive and hands-on way.
Although IGESP alumni are living and working around the world, many still
feel a very strong bond to Lebanon and the region and look forward to
returning some day to solve what Zurayk describes as “the diversity of
environmental problems in our region that affect the integrity of our
ecosystems and the health of our people.” There is now a growing recognition
that the region faces enormous environmental challenges. The dozens of
men and women who have graduated from AUB’s IGESP are among those who
are working to meet these challenges.
1 L. Semerjian, M. El-Fadel, R. Zurayk, and I. Nuwayhid, “Interdisciplinary
Approach to Environmental Education,” Journal of Professional Issues in
Engineering Education and Practice, July 2004, pages 173–81.
The Lebanon Mountain Trail: the first long-distance hiking trail in Lebanon
One of the projects keeping IGESP graduate Karim El-Jisr (BS ’97, MS ’99)
and a group of his colleagues at ECODIT busy in recent years is the establishment
of the Lebanon Mountain Trail (LMT), the first long-distance hiking trail
in Lebanon. The 440-kilometer trail extends from Qbaiyat in north Lebanon
to Marjaayoun in the south and ranges in altitude between 600 and 1,800
meters. ECODIT launched the two-year LMT project in 2005 with funding
from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and assistance
from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in the United States.
In addition to designing and establishing the trail, ECODIT trained 50
local guides on a wide range of skills including how to plan and coordinate
trips, trail interpretation (providing information about the history,
archaeology, and ecosystems of the areas that the trail traverses), and
map-reading skills. ECODIT also refurbished 10 guesthouses in marginalized
trail-side communities, upgraded two town squares, and set up several
rest areas including picnic spots and campsites along the trail. It is
currently producing the first English language guidebook for the LMT and
maps for hikers, and has already launched a web site (http://www.lebanontrail.org).
The LMT Association, a Lebanese non-profit organization, will be responsible
for maintaining and protecting the trail in the future.
El-Jisr, the project’s deputy manager, explains, “One of the goals of
the LMT initiative is to bring people together by linking villages and
people from all backgrounds and affiliations.” ECODIT envisions that the
trail will become a magnet for ecotourism and rural development along
the route. Unfortunately, the ongoing political instability in Lebanon
has hampered some of the efforts, but El-Jisr is quick to note that these
efforts have been postponed, not cancelled.
The good news is that hikers can now walk the entire trail. The trail
has been described in numerous articles and press stories as “breathtaking,”
but getting there takes its toll: sections of the trail have also been
described as “strenuous” and “knee-punishing.” Walking the entire length
of the LMT is clearly not for the faint of heart.