From Organic Chemistry to Ivy League Policy Making

Written by Atul Sharma

My passion for sustainability came after an eye-opening research project with Professor Janette Lindesay from the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU, where I learnt to appreciate the complexity of the issues involved in anthropogenic climate change.  In the ever-changing geopolitical conditions, Australia seemed so disconnected from the rest of the world in this field.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to become more connected with these issues on a global scale by taking a course at Yale University over the winter break.The course, called “The Future of Food: Sustainability, Health and Law”, is organised through the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) through their Global Summer Programs.

  • Students from all over the world

    Students from all over the world—from Oxford, Cambridge, Denmark, China and also us Aussies!—came together in a small class of 15 students to discuss issues relating to global supply chains, international/local regulations, and sustainability. We all had different backgrounds. I’m predominantly a chemist, whereas there were people from engineering, mathematics, public health, geography and even a student teaching Drake to undergraduate students!

  • View of Yale's Campus

    This is one view of campus from one of their bell towers. The architecture is predominantly Gothic. The main architect devised ways to make the campus appear centuries older than it was by giving the impression of multiple dynasties ruling over the university, including burning hay on roofs to make it look sieged, pouring acid down walls, and even having inscriptions in multiple ancient languages across the library! Sick guy!

  • Baseball field

    Us IARU students were part of the Yale Summer Session Residential Life. Every weekend we had the opportunity to go to an incredibly subsidised event, ranging from Broadway musicals, beach trips, guest lecturers, to seeing the New York Yankees!

  • View of Morse College

    A view of Morse College, the main dining hall for the IARU students. The food included daily woodfire pizza, unlimited ice cream and soft drinks, vegan waffles, a salad bar and regular specials. As a self-catered student at ANU, this was amazing, not gonna lie.

  • Atul at UN

    As part of the course, we took a guided tour throughout the UN. What struck me most were the framed paintings of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In particular Article 26 relating to education: “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and strengthening of respect for … fundamental freedoms”. As students in different labs, lecture theatres, courts, dorms and backgrounds, it's hard to know how we can pave the way for educating future generations. Valuing education is no doubt what threads us all.

    PS: The UN gift store had a massive scale model of the buildings IN LEGO. Had to be said…

  • Atul jumping on Brooklyn Bridge

    A couple of newly-made friends and I stayed in New York City for an extra two days to see what makes this city so well-known. We walked through Central Park, the MET and MOMA museums, the Statue of Liberty and of course, the Brooklyn Bridge! Oh what a feeling!