Global Environmental & Sustainability Studies: Anaïs Verstraeten - Counting fish in Mexico

2023-05-08 The Belgian came across the English-language Bachelor's programme at Leuphana during her search for a degree. In the meantime, the 23-year-old is about to graduate and would like to work for an NGO afterwards. An internship during her studies took her to the other side of the world.

Anaïs Verstraeten first heard about climate change when she was at primary school. "We had a good teacher who talked to us about current issues," the Belgian recalls. Environmental issues were also discussed at home. "I therefore looked for a degree programme that focused on sustainability and environmental science," the 23-year-old recalls. After graduating from high school, she wanted to go abroad. But her place of study should be within easy reach of her hometown Namur. "In France, as at Belgian universities, teaching is often frontal. That kind of learning doesn't appeal to me very much," she explains. So Germany and the Netherlands were still a possibility. "During my search, I came across the Global Environmental & Sustainability Studies programme at Leuphana. I didn't find any other study programme anywhere that gave such a good overview of environmental and sustainability science. That convinced me right away," explains Anaïs Verstraeten.

In the minor, she chose Economics: "Sustainability needs economic change. I wanted to learn more about the background," explains Anaïs Verstraeten.

In her Bachelor's thesis, she focuses on ecology: "I spent three months on the Mexican coast and studied fish stocks in coral reefs." To do this, she first learned how to determine around 100 fish species based on external characteristics. Then she dived above the reef for 30 minutes at a time at regular intervals and systematically counted fish. The data she collected is now being used in a Mexican government project. At the same time, Anaïs Verstraeten wants to evaluate the results in her Bachelor's thesis. Even before her trip to Mexico, she had assisted at the Institute of Ecology as a student assistant in the laboratory and with field work. In her complementary studies, she took a Spanish course, among other things, to prepare for her stay in Mexico. "The International Office supported me in my travel planning," Anaïs Verstraeten recalls.

The B.Sc. Global Environmental & Sustainability Studies programme can be studied entirely in English, but the Belgian now also speaks fluent German: "I was able to take a course at Leuphana free of charge and quickly came into contact with other students. It made learning easy for me." After graduating, Anaïs Verstraeten would like to go back to Belgium: "I would like to work for an NGO, maybe even in Brussels. Through my studies, I feel well prepared in the field of sustainability and in environmental sciences."