Sweta Byahut — Faculty
Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Sweta is Assistant Professor in Community Planning in the College of Liberal Arts who uses sustainability as an overarching framework for all her teaching and research, and her sustainability-related interests are broad: land use and alternative transportation, climate protection planning, globalization, urban land management and planning in developing countries, regulation of development, and disaster mitigation and planning.
Sweta is an exceptionally talented educator. She co-teaches the Introduction to Sustainability course and in the process has inspired many students to add the Sustainability Minor to their degree programs and to take her other sustainability-related classes, two of which are approved electives in the Sustainability Minor. Her Cities, Planning and Climate Change seminar explores the interconnections between urban planning decisions and climate change impacts, particularly the impact of land use and transportation planning decisions. Her Sustainable Transportation Planning seminar focuses on a range of urban transportation issues from a sustainable development perspective.
As a systems thinker, she helps her students look beyond the “green agenda” and incorporate the concepts of social justice, intra-generational equity, underdevelopment, and poverty, and consider a paradigm-changing needs-based approach to a sustainable global future. Sweta integrates student fieldwork in a variety of urban and regional settings that expands students’ knowledge of both theory and practice, and she empowers her students to tackle real-life challenges in the context of their classwork. This year one of Sweta’s classes worked with Auburn city planners and the city’s Bicycle Committee to conduct a detailed analysis of the City of Auburn Bicycle Plan. This interdisciplinary team of students analyzed planning, policy, engineering, and design issues and produced an array of viable and creative improvements to the city’s bicycle plan. The students presented their findings at a packed meeting in City Hall in a polished and professional way. Their recommendations were well received by city staff, residents, and the city’s Bicycle Committee.
It has been said that great leaders and teachers are those who facilitate the success of their followers and students so effectively that they think they did it all themselves. The success of Sweta’s students is a testament to Sweta’s skill as an educator. She has passion for her subject and a talent for conveying knowledge that students find meaningful and relevant. She engages and inspires her students and prepares them to meaningfully contribute to a more sustainable future.