From the Editors of MainGate
There is a green movement on campus. No, no—it’s not
anything political. It is, in a word, no less than a remarkably
unified spirit of environmental awareness and conservation that
is becoming more persuasive day by day.
The environment of Lebanon—and what AUB faculty, alumni, and
students are doing to protect it while also helping promote agrarian
development—is an issue we at MainGate have long wanted to
tackle. As alumni and friends, you all know the sheer, natural marvel
of Lebanon. From its long, undulating coastline to its verdant valleys
and snow-capped mountain peaks, to its fertile farmlands and flourishing
urban centers, it is a land without equal in the region for its
We found that the AUB faculty involved in environmental issues have
adopted the latest innovative approach of linking environmental
conservation to the aims of sustainable development. Sitting in
his office in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS)
Building, Professor Rami Zurayk pointed out that conservation has
taken on a whole new meaning for him and his colleagues in the Interfaculty
Graduate Environmental Sciences Program. Through the faculty’s
Environment and Sustainable Development Unit, they are not only
working to help preserve Lebanon’s precious natural resources;
they are also aiming to see poverty ultimately eradicated
in both agrarian and urban areas—which is the key goal behind
their efforts to promote sustainable development. With this two-pronged
vision in mind, there is much on their plate—such
as planning zone management for the Lebanese coastline, sustaining
plant diversity, protecting threatened species, devising ways to
deal with the solid waste problem, and introducing practices to
achieve sustainable livelihoods in the marginal lands of Lebanon.
Many challenges lie ahead, but there is no doubt that these AUB
faculty members have the commitment and expertise to get the job
On campus, we discovered that practically everyone—faculty,
students, and administration—is actively involved in the green
movement. The Physical Plant has successfully introduced a number
of energy and water-saving measures, as well as a campus-wide recycling
program. The students, on their part, channel their activities through
the Student Environmental Club—such as organizing recycling
and clean-up efforts as well as conducting workshops on waste management.
In fact, AUB has a long tradition of environmentalism, as we learned
in our interview with Professor Emeritus Aftim Acra. It’s
a conversation that is sure to fascinate you.
Throughout Lebanon and the region, there are AUB alumni involved
in environmental initiatives. The Beirut-based Healthy Basket program,
run by FAFS alumni and faculty, brings farm-fresh organic foods
straight to the front door of Beirut residents, many of whom would
not otherwise have easy access to such healthy produce. And up in
the hills of Aley is Animal Encounter, a non-profit organization
run by two AUB alumni that takes in animals, many of them indigenous
to Lebanon and in danger of extinction, and teaches conservation
to children in a beyond-fun learning environment.
No question about it: the environmental spirit at AUB is indeed
contagious. We have seen it in action and are extremely pleased
to be sharing this first-hand report with you. The road ahead for
Lebanon’s environment may appear rocky—but with the
University’s faculty, students, and alumni so thoroughly engaged,
it definitely looks much greener from where we stand.
Ibrahim Khoury and Lynn Mahoney
Lynn Mahoney and Ibrahim Khoury
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