Environmental Sustainability

20 January 2020

Sustainability in the 21st Century - A Bigger Picture

Students at St Mary’s University College recently received a hard-hitting lesson on environmental sustainability from a scientist at Loyola University Chicago, USA.

Dr Anuradha Verma, a niece of Lord Diljit Rana of Malone, spoke to one hundred and seventy undergraduates at St Mary’s on how the world has been impacted by a combination of growth, competing economies and the corporate direction of global trends.

She also offered potential solutions at the individual level to combat the negative effects that the world and its people have been experiencing as a consequence of this impact.

Dr Verma was born in India and pursued a career in the scientific field, obtaining a PhD in Biological Sciences from Delhi University. She moved to Chicago in 1988. In addition to her work at the University, she has partnered with several grassroots organisations in Chicago with the goal of changing policies around the use of plastic.

Speaking to the Irish News she said:

“My training as a scientist taught me two things: first, to speak up for your point of view and, secondly, to use your emotions, like curiosity, excitement, dread, joy, perseverance, frustration, worry and delight, because emotions assign a value to your reason. If you don’t know why and what you want, you can’t make a good decision.

What we do not realize is that we have ecological limits. In any ecosystem, the availability of food and nutrients becomes the ultimate arbiter of population size, but not for us humans. We change our forests, water, rocks, soil, atmosphere, land and even our climate and take down every animal which comes our way. We, the Homo Sapiens, the wise men, the hallmark of our species, have just come of age without realizing that we have to follow the same laws which rule the survival of any organism, and we are no different.”

Dr Verma concluded on a positive note:

“My hope is in young girls and boys like Greta Thunberg who are looking at the world they are left with and wanting action from a system which is resistant to any systemic transformations. My best wishes to all the young activists who want action and not the spotlight.”

Lord Rana and Dr Verma were joined by two students who will participate in a joint St Mary’s/Stranmillis study visit later in the year to India in association with the Saphara Project. Conor McManus from Belfast and Katie Sweeney from Derry will join six other student teachers and two tutors in an initiative which will involve them teaching in schools in a rural area of Northern India.

Front row: Professor Peter Finn, Lord Diljit Rana and Dr Anuradha Verma

Back Row: Conor McManus, Mr Sameer Seth and Katie Sweeney

< back to News Archive