Syed Hasan will teach waste management, ecological protection
When Professor Syed Hasan (College of Arts & Sciences, Geosciences) sees impoverished nations emerging as significant global business centers, he sees the citizens finding solid social footing and getting relief from financial burdens. But Hasan takes the longer view – he also sees the need for proper waste management and the potential for harm to ecological systems like the deserts and waters of a place like Qatar.
Using a Fulbright grant, Hasan will teach waste management courses at Qatar University during the spring 2014 semester. He is uniquely well-equipped for the position.
After earning a Ph.D. in Engineering and Environmental Geology from Purdue University, Hasan joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1979. He is a professor of Geoscience and directs the Center for Applied Environmental Research and the Graduate Certificate Program in Waste Management. Internationally, Hasan is known for designing innovative courses and writing a much-needed textbook on hazardous waste management.
“Kuwait, New Delhi, Bejing, cities and countries on the rise are also increasing their amounts of hazardous by-products. New Delhi mandated only compressed natural gas in public autos near the city center, but their solid waste is a nightmare. Developing countries understand the seriousness of waste management, but the education is behind,” Hasan said.
Hasan and Qatar are a perfect fit. When Hasan was preparing his Fulbright application, he read a report issued by the Qatar Ministry of Environment about the impact of drilling on wildlife, air quality, safety and health. Despite the awareness, Qatar has not closed the gap in educating and training a cadre of environmental professionals. Hasan views this appointment as an opportunity to establish such a group.
“Solving environmental problems is time-consuming and expensive and may seem overwhelming, but one should never underestimate the role of the individual,” Hasan said. “I want them to adhere to the motto, ‘Think globally but act locally.’ If everyone would do his/her share, collectively it will make a significant impact.”
Qatar is a sovereign Arab state with enormous oil and natural gas reserves. It has a desirable quality of life, having moved in about 50 years from poverty and pearl fishing to enviable wealth, and status as one of America’s major export customers. Still, its location in the ecologically-fragile Persian Gulf is, for Hasan, a concern.
“My course includes a waste audit. My students will analyze the nature and quantity of waste generated in selected campus buildings and make recommendations for waste minimization and sustainability. If arrangements work out, I’d like to take my students to a major landfill near Doha, the capital city. I’ll use everything at my disposal to encourage lasting change,” Hasan said.
During his career, Hasan received an award for his textbook from the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists; established the only graduate-level waste management certificate program; was honored by the U.S. EPA with the Educator’s Environmental Excellence Award; and accepted the Meritorious Service Award from the Geological Society of America.
Hasan is optimistic about the Qataris adopting environmental safeguards.
“I feel environmental problems can be kept to a minimum through citizen education,” Hasan said. “By offering courses in waste management, I hope to highlight the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy environment for the people, and preservation of the unique ecological systems of Qatar.”