Busy city scene of pedestrians and cyclists in front of a museum in Madrid, Spain.

At NYU, sustainability is part of everything we do. With access to more than 600 sustainability-related courses, cutting-edge research facilities, and green spaces galore, NYU students are serious about cutting carbon emissions and building a more resilient future. And they take that passion with them wherever they go. Recently, we met with three NYU students to discuss their experiences with climate and sustainability research, education, and activism across NYU’s global network.

The Black Star Gate, a landmark in Accra, Ghana.
Combining Culture and Climate at NYU Accra

Lucy Whitney is a Global Liberal Studies major concentrating in sustainability, health, and the environment. She’s also minoring in Francophone Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. When she studied away at NYU Accra, she wanted to combine her varied academic interests. So, she sought an internship that would allow her to research climate change while deepening her understanding of the local culture.

Lucy interned at the Centre for National Distance Learning and Open Schooling, a Ministry of Education agency. There, she helped expand access to quality education for Ghanaian students through digital learning. “Being at NYU Accra was integral to this work,” she says. “Here, faculty and staff get to know their students and put so much time and care into making sure we can achieve what we hope to.” But Lucy’s work didn’t end in Ghana. “I used this experience as a jumping-off point for my senior thesis,” she says. “It focuses on how to best integrate local and cultural knowledge and traditions into Ghanaian environmental education,” she explains. Ultimately, Lucy hopes to expand her research. “I want to create a more nuanced and rich understanding of an ecosystem and how humans can reduce their harmful impact,” she says.

Two people walking on a road next to a beach.
A Cleaner Community at NYU Sydney

As an NYU service ambassador, Michaela Greenlee leads service events that promote social justice across the University. So, when the Global Public Health and Sociology major studied away at NYU Sydney, she decided to take Environmental Health in a Global World. It introduced her to “how physical and social environments influence health disparities in Australia, particularly among vulnerable groups.” Inspired by the course material, she decided to act. “I wanted to find a way to recognize and support Australia’s environmental and sustainability efforts,” she explains. As a result, she partnered with local nonprofit Clean Up Australia to host a daylong cleanup event for students.

The NYU Sydney team supported Michaela. They helped her spread the word and fund the event, yielding spotless streets for the neighborhood and new skills for Michaela. “Service can be very rewarding, especially if it’s undertaken abroad,” she shares. “You get to learn about a different culture’s social justice issues. Then, you start to understand their means of combating such problems. What’s more, this can stir up ideas to bring back to your own country to initiate meaningful change. I want to get other students excited about giving back to the global community.”

The interior of Atocha railway station in Madrid, showcasing its historic architecture and bustling surroundings.
Growing Greener Businesses at NYU Madrid

Sarah Rivzi, Class of 2024, has always cared about the environment. “I’ve been involved in projects and internships related to sustainability and climate my entire academic career,” she says. As such, the Politics and Global Liberal Studies double major (with a concentration in sustainability, health, and the environment) wanted to continue her sustainability work when she studied away at NYU Madrid. Through NYU, she worked with an internship agency to secure a role at the Spanish National Research Council, Spain’s largest research institution. There, she interned under an environmental economist, logging and analyzing sustainability data from over 400 companies to find viable pathways for forest carbon offsets in Spain and the United Kingdom. “My research provided a specific list of which companies had genuine green standards and which companies engaged in greenwashing,” Sarah explains.

Reflecting on her time in Madrid, Sarah concludes, “Being in a different global location was challenging in the moment. First, there is such a culture shock. Furthermore, there’s a different language. However, I only look back on it with fond memories. I’m so grateful that NYU gave me the opportunity to live and work in Spain while doing something I love.”