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Huron First-Year Student Reflects on Earth Day and Huron’s Efforts for a Greener Tomorrow

Huron University
Apr 22 2024

London ON – From spearheading a new United Nations environmental initiative to celebrating a bold new academic program at Huron focused on animal ethics and sustainability - Hiba Shaikh Ansari is defining what it means to be an ‘Eco-Patriot’ this Earth Day.

"I am fortunate to be part of a vibrant community at Huron that values sustainability, as evidenced by the launch of the world's first major in Animal Ethics and Sustainability Leadership. This provides me with a supportive platform to make a meaningful contribution and inspire real change.”

The recently announced Animal Ethics and Sustainability Leadership degree offered at Huron University is the first academic program of its kind in the world. This visionary yet impact-focused new program empowers students to learn about issues facing animals and the planet and how to make a positive change using the knowledge and skills they will gain through their degrees.

Hiba’s interest in the environment began during her studies in New Delhi, India while attending high school. There she and a group of students researched the ‘impact of single-use plastic on local communities in India, mapping the lives and livelihoods of local fishing communities.' This involved a comprehensive analysis of the entire production, usage, and disposal cycle of single-use plastic, along with reaching out to stakeholders across the supply chain to understand their perspectives and practices.

Later, upon arriving at Huron, she discovered the university recently became a designated Blue Community, ending the sale of plastic bottled water products on campus. She is also encouraged to see the campus just launched a student-led Environmental Sustainability Committee – partnering with Huron’s staff to plan and execute new green initiatives on campus.

She is compelled by others who have refused to settle for a passive approach to environmentalism. "My motivation to engage in sustainable actions at Huron is deeply rooted in the powerful words of actress and advocate Emma Watson: 'If not me, then who? If not now, then when?' This quote defines the urgency and responsibility I feel towards building a sustainable future.”

Hiba’s commitment to environmental impact has now grown beyond Huron’s campus with the recent appointment to a United Nations-based fellowship.

“I'm thrilled to share that I've been selected for the Millennium Fellowship, which is affiliated with the UN Academic Impact (UNAI) initiative and the Millennium Campus Network (MCN). In this capacity, I will be advocating for sustainable climate action with students from other campuses around the world. My role involves being the Founder and the Campus Director for a project called 'EcoPatriot,' which will be active from August to November on Huron's campus.”

Aligning with Huron’s vision of creating Leaders with Heart, the EcoPatriot Project seeks to develop leaders who are not only academically accomplished but also deeply committed to environmental sustainability. The group’s initiatives will include organizing campus-wide events and establishing the ‘Huron Garden’. For Hiba, she is driven to create a lasting legacy that embodies students' dedication to sustainability which will inspire future generations to follow suit.

I envision a future where sustainability is not just a choice but an integral part of our daily lives. This requires us to prioritize conservation, embrace renewable resources, and build a deep relationship with nature. The time for action is now, and I am convinced that every effort, no matter how small, makes a significant impact.

At Huron, we celebrate Earth Day and the leadership of individuals on our campus like Hiba. She is a prime example of Huron’s focus, as noted in our recent strategic plan, to be an academic community that cares for each other and the world.


To learn more about the Earth Day movement and how you can become a part of it visit the Earth Day Canada website.