Sustainability Practices in the Middle East: Past, Present, Future

September 22, 2021
11:30am - 1:00pm

Please join the Middle East Center as we explore eco-friendly practices and traditions of the Middle East -- past, present, and future. From windcatchers in the  Central Persian Desert, to ancient irrigation techniques still in use in Oman, to sustainable city planning in the Persian Gulf -- this event will paint a picture of a region with a rich history of sustainability.


Susan Roaf headshot

Susan Roaf

British Architect and Scholar

Susan Roaf earned her PhD for her study of the Windcatchers of the Central Persian Desert from Oxford Brookes University where she taught from 1989 to 2005 both in professional studies, technology and design. Her global reputation as a leading Eco-designer is built on an extensive and varied career as a researcher, designer, author and thinker. She has practiced as an architect for a number of years on the design of housing, schools, hospitals, Landscape architecture and town planning. She has taught at Baghdad University and the University of Frederico II in Naples and has been a visiting professor at the Open University and Arizona State University. She is well known as a designer for her Oxford Ecohouse, the first integrated photovoltaic roof in Britain. She is an award winning designer, teacher and author and is Co-Chair of TIA, the international Teachers in Architecture organization and Co-Chair of the Westminster Carbon Counting Group.

Akudo Ejelonu headshot

Akudo Ejelonu

PhD Candidate University of Pennsylvania

Akudo Ejelonu is a joint PhD in Demography and Sociology student at the University of Pennsylvania. She recently received dual degree in Master of Public Health and Master of Environmental Studies student at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed the LALS graduate certificate during her master thesis work in Tzununa, Guatemala. She is committed to working in global health research focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), population studies, gender politics, immigration and environmentally induced migration, and the intersection of race, class and gender. She is a member of the Global Water Alliance, a Philadelphia based organization that is committed to increasing global access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in the city and beyond.

Gokce Gunel headshot

Gökçe Günel

Assistant Professor in Anthropology Rice University

Gökçe Günel is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Rice University. Her latest book Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi (Duke University Press, 2019) examines the development and construction of Masdar City's renewable energy and clean technology infrastructures, providing an illuminating portrait of an international group of engineers, designers, and students who attempted to build a post-oil future in Abu Dhabi. Currently, she is at work on a second book project provisionally titled Energy Accumulation,  which seeks to criticize the unilinear logics of the energy transition narrative by studying the emergence of a Turkish-built floating power plant in Ghana. Dr. Günel finished her PhD in Anthropology at Cornell, and has served as Cultures of Energy Mellon-Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow at Rice University (2012-2013), ACLS New Faculty Fellow and Lecturer at Columbia University (2013-2016) and Assistant Professor in Middle East and North African Studies at the University of Arizona (2016-2019). 


Lily Cheng headshot

Lily Cheng

Recent Graduate University of Pennsylvania, City and Regional Planning


Lily Cheng is a recent graduate in city planning at the University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in designing and planning for the intersection of social equity and climate resiliency, particularly looking at sustainable methods of long term water resource management. Prior to coming to Penn, Lily worked in the architecture field as a project manager of renovations, and pursued sustainable building and construction methods in New York. Lily holds a Bachelor's degree in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.