Green study abroad: learning and applying lessons about sustainability

How do we define green study abroad? What does it encompass?

  • Green study abroad is making students aware of their carbon footprint abroad and bringing that knowledge home.

As educators and students, why should we think about the study abroad footprint?

  • As educators and students, we believe we should think about the study abroad footprint because of the following reasons: global warming; cost; living with your host family in a more responsible way.

Who should prepare students to think about their footprint on and off campus?

  • Cities in transition, host program, offices of international education, faculty and fellow students.

How do we help students learn about sustainability in their host countries?

  • readings in the study abroad handbook
  • practices by personnel in the Office of International Education
  • host family behavior
  • teaching a course that ties local economy of host country to the environment
  • encourage the use of public transportation abroad -reflection papers/journals
  • exposure to environmental data
  • student questionnaires for each specific program - examples questions:
    • why is it that people do not drive as much in Scandinavia?
    • what allows Spain to generate 50% of its electricity needs from wind power?
    • how much concern for the environment is there in the host culture (do they take longer showers? do they switch off the lights?)?
    • do you think about your own carbon footprint?
    • the ultimate test of environmental activism: can you live like a local? Can you adjust your carbon footprint to the average of your host society?
  • encourage other considerations
    • intentional living;
    • try walking more before you go abroad;
    • learn to use public transportation before you go abroad.

How can students apply at home the lessons they learned about sustainability abroad?

  • The students can apply at home the lessons they learned about sustainability abroad by working in groups on projects. This way they would bring ideas home from their host countries. For instance:
    • Compare your carbon footprint in the US to your carbon footprint abroad
    • Where is it higher? Why?
    • What lessons can you draw?