In Hong Kong, NYU Students Forge Pathways to Urban Sustainability

Hong Kong has a unique landscape that juxtaposes towering skyscrapers with coastal wetlands, densely populated city blocks with fishing villages.

The landscape was an ideal setting for a Steinhardt Global Affairs graduate offering this spring focusing on Hong Kong’s urban ecosystem. The course was taught by Raul Lejano, associate professor of environmental conservation education, who integrated the international field studies workshop with his ongoing research on urban resilience in Asia.

Over two weeks in January, the students collaborated with nonprofits, a local school, and others in Hong Kong to craft strategies for integrating the urban and the ecological. The students – who are studying environmental conservation education, international education, urban planning, and related subjects – formed four teams to develop innovative plans to protect Hong Kong’s ecological heritage.

Through their projects, the students developed a nature trail to create a way for local residents to cherish and project local wetlands; a hands-on nature lesson for fifth grade students; a sustainable housing plan blending old and new approaches to sustainability; and a study of seafood tourism.

Upon returning to the United States, students continued analyzing the data they gathered and prepared their deliverables, which they presented in March. The projects and presentations were fruitful: A Hong Kong primary school has adopted the nature lesson developed by NYU students into its curriculum, and Hong Kong’s Undersecretary of the Environment is considering incorporating the students’ Hoi Ha Nature Trail into the nature master plan for the region.

“The students really took on the global ethic which is: wherever people are working out new approaches toward a more humane and ecological world, that’s our place, that’s where we belong,” said Lejano.

Click on the images below to learn more about the four student projects.