Featured C+Ser: Sarah Abdelrahim

By Nadav Gazit, Climate and Society ’13

As an undergraduate in Physical Sciences at the University of Maryland, Sarah Abdelrahim had a keen interest in meteorology and atmospheric sciences. After graduating, she started searching for ways to apply her science background and growing interest in climate towards advancing social issues.

“The Climate and Society program seemed like a good fit for me because it combined my background in the physical sciences with my interest in communicating the science to different people and societies,” Abdelrahim, a 2008 graduate of the program, said. Her favorite core course was Dynamics of Climate Variability and Climate Change, which she found challenging yet gave her “a sound understanding of climate science” that could be applied and effectively communicated to others. This knowledge would prove to be very useful in her future endeavors.

Her favorite elective courses were Energy Business and Economic Development at the School of International Policy and Affairs and the Climate Change and Public Health course at the Mailman School of Public Health. “Both electives introduced many new and interesting concepts that I had not come across before and that still form a basis for a lot of my thinking today,”  she explained. The coursework Abdelrahim pursued throughout the program enabled her to apply her scientific knowledge to help society cope with the impacts of climate.

Abdelrahim currently works at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya at the Division of Early Warning and Assessment, which focuses on current and emerging environmental concerns. The main task Abdelrahim is working on is creating a platform for stakeholders to assess how they interact in the face of climate change and other environmental impacts. “I spend most of my time working on a new program that seeks to coordinate the work of scientists and practitioners globally on climate change vulnerability, impacts and adaptation,” she explained.

C+S has provided inspiration for Abdelrahim in her current position beyond the coursework itself. “The multidisciplinary experience of the program and the experience of having had classmates from a wide range of academic backgrounds has been invaluable in bridging gaps between different environmental stakeholders.”

Abdelrahim advice to future students? “There is so much going on, especially with the Earth Institute and affiliated centers: frequent lectures, conferences and other events; and many, many renowned experts. Take advantage of that! Get involved as much as you can outside of the classroom, whether through research opportunities or reaching out to speak individually with experts in your field of interest. Also, take advantage of gaining an interdisciplinary education and take courses outside of your comfort zone. Having this kind of background is rare and very valuable in the workplace.”

For more information about the M.A. Program in Climate and Society contact the Program office.