Study Sustainability Abroad

Interested in studying abroad? Check out the exciting list of sustainability-focused programs St. Thomas offers!

Studying abroad is an excellent way to combine academic theory with real world practice in an intercultural context -- a truly transformative experience!  You are encouraged to incorporate off-campus study into your degree.  St. Thomas has partnered with a number of organizations that offer sustainability-themed semester and summer programs.  If you are interested in participating in any of the programs below, or any other off-campus study program, please visit the Office of Study Abroad website or visit the Study Abroad resource library in MHC 212 for information on application deadlines, financial aid and credit transfer.


J-Term 2018

Field Methods and Sustainable Energy Use in Iceland (GEOL 298) | Instructor: Kevin Theissen and Jeni McDermott

In this course, you will be trained in fundamental geological and environmental science field techniques such as geologic mapping, observational data collection, and water and sediment sampling and analysis protocols.  Moreover, you will develop a deeper understanding of environmental sustainability issues, with a primary focus on sustainable energy use and alternative energy resources.  We will accomplish this through a series of 1 to 3-day field projects and site visits to geothermal plants, fishing communities, and active volcanic centers.  The primary learning method will be through hands-on projects. 

Multi-Cultural Communication in Diverse Organizations in Hawaii (COJO 370) | Instructor: Debra Petersen

We will examine the concepts, theories, and realities of the way individuals and groups work and communicate in organizations where culture and multiculturalism play a primary or prominent role. Each year we partner with the Ke Kula Ni’ihau O' Kekaha Learning Center (KKNOK) to create a reciprocal service-learning experience on an environmental theme that meets the curricular needs of their forty students (pre-school - high school) and the learning objectives of our course. Previous activities with KKNOK include learning about an endangered Hawaiian duck—the kaloa maoli--in 2010.  We contributed to the production of a dvd that features the art, music and literature projects on which our students and their students collaborated.  They continue to use this dvd to educate Hawaiians about endangered species and to showcase their unique school at Hawai’i state education meetings. In 2014 our students and the KKNOK students learned about various aspects of the Waimea River, including ecological challenges to the river and surrounding watershed. Highlights included a presentation by an elder at the Waimea Technology Center and a day on and around the river in which the Kekaha students and our students taught others about the history and environmental challenges of this area. 

The course is highlighted in this PBS video about the KKNOK Learning Center, at 14:40.

Offered as a Study Abroad program in Hawaii


Summer

Iceland: Renewable Energy, Technology, and Resource Economics

Program: SIT

Location: Iceland

Examine the physical processes, economics, and environmental impacts of energy use in Iceland.

Major topics of study include:

  • Hydroelectric and geothermal power; wind, solar, tidal, and biomass energy; alternative fuels; and resource economics and policy
  • Sustainable energy design and implementation within larger sociocultural, economic, and environmental contexts
  • The geology behind energy usage and the importance of its sustainable utilization
  • The basics of the Icelandic language

Visit the program website for more information.

Indonesia: Community Nature Conservation in Bali

Program: SIT

Location: Bali, Indonesia

Examine resource-use patterns and community-based conservation initiatives on the extraordinary island of Bali.

Major topics of study include:

  • Conservation strategies
  • Principles and practices of sustainability and conservation biology
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Management of threatened species and populations

Visit the program website for more information.

New Zealand: Environmental Studies--Ethics, Culture, and Sustainability

Program: Arcadia

Location: Australia

This popular summer field studies program brings you backpacking through three weeks in Australia and two in New Zealand. While studying abroad you'll gain an understanding of Australia and New Zealand's unique wilderness environments and their significance to indigenous and contemporary societies, focusing on the environment, environmental ethics, culture and sustainability in fascinating locations.

  • This is a very popular program with a limited number of spaces. We recommend applying early in order to secure your spot on the program.

  • Discussion topics include: the relationship between humans and nature; psycho-evolutionary theory; conservation, sustainability and climate change; and leadership and personal development through wilderness experience.

  • Through field study, lectures, daily journaling, students will explore some of the most important and treasured natural areas in Australia and New Zealand, including the Great Barrier Reef, the Wet Tropics, the Australian Outback and the Volcanic and Geothermal areas of New Zealand.

Visit the program website for more information.


Semester

AUSTRALIA: Biology & Ecology Field Studies

Program: CIEE

Location: Perth, Australia

What’s it like to explore a 260 kilometer-long reef home to 250 different types of coral? Dive into the fascinating environment that is Australia on CIEE’s Ecology, Conservation, and Sustainability program. Take courses at the renowned Curtin University Sustainability and Policy Institute, conduct marine research at Ningaloo Reef and contribute to ongoing research on endangered marsupials in the forests of the south west of Western Australia. Unique coursework, extensive fieldwork with local scientists, and exciting excursions challenge you to examine environmental issues and start coming up with real-world solutions.

Study abroad in Perth and you'll:

  • Enjoy an experiential learning model that feature field research, classroom lectures, and lab work
  • Visit the Curtin University Sustainability and Policy Institute — a nationally renowned school headed by Professor Peter Newman, an internationally known environmental scientist and sustainability expert
  • Spend time working at the world heritage listed Ningaloo Reef, as well as the biodiversity hotspot in the south west forests.

Visit the program website for more information.

Australia: Rainforest, Reef & Cultural Ecology

Program: SIT

Location: Cairns, Australia

Examine the ecology and culture of Australia’s two most diverse environments, the Wet Tropics Bioregion and the Great Barrier Reef, and study the ecological patterns, processes, and human influences affecting these bioregions.

Major topics of study include:

  • Diverse habitats and environments within the Wet Tropics Bioregion
  • Coral reef conservation and management
  • Aboriginal perspectives on the environment
  • Rainforest ecology and conservation
  • Politics of conservation in Australia
  • Biophysical relationships between terrestrial and marine ecosystems

Visit the program website for more information.

AUSTRALIA: Sustainability and Environmental Action

Program: SIT

Location: Australia

This program is designed to empower you to make a positive contribution in building more sustainable societies. You will witness and investigate practical alternatives to the current economic system, which is degrading our environment and leading to increasing inequality, and will be inspired by the incredible natural beauty of Australia’s World Heritage areas. You will learn how to apply the principles of sustainability, not only in your personal life, but in any career you choose.

Major topics of study include:

  • Sustainability
  • Sense of place
  • The natural environment and nature conservation
  • Social change and environmental action
  • Ecopsychology and environmental ethics
  • Aboriginal relationships with the environment 

Visit the program website for more information.

BRAZIL: Environment & Sustainability Studies

Program: CIEE

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Just imagine studying sustainability in a country home to 30 percent of the world’s rain forests. CIEE takes you there. On our Environment and Sustainability Studies program in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll dive into some of mankind’s greatest issues, studying everything from biology to urban planning in the most biodiverse country on the planet. Improve your Portuguese, see an endangered animal or two up close, and make a difference while you’re at it.

Study abroad in Rio de Janeiro and you’ll:

  • Live in a vibrant, culturally rich city and global capital of environmental sustainability and sustainable development
  • Enroll directly in courses at one of Brazil’s most prestigious universities
  • Explore the city and country through a series of excursions and guided visits
  • Take advantage of engagement opportunities at environmental organizations such as the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), Brazilian Institute for Engineering, Architecture, and Environmental Protection (IBEA), SOS Mata Atlantica, Greenpeace, and more

Visit the program website for more information.

CAMBODIA: Conservation, Ethics, and Environmental Change

Program: SFS

Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Students in this program learn about the complexity of Cambodia’s struggle to balance biodiversity, development, and human needs. Through coursework, field excursions, and Directed Research, students focus on conservation, environmental ethics, and rural livelihoods by studying the interface between livelihoods and the environment, assessing biodiversity and ecology, and gaining an understanding of natural resource use and governance.

The greater Siem Reap region provides many riverine and terrestrial habitats to explore. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor serves as a backdrop for understanding Cambodian culture and religious pluralism, blending Buddhist, Animist, and Hindu beliefs. Students learn how Buddhism has directed societal norms and principles regarding environmental protection.

In addition, students explore a variety of regional development and conservation challenges and community-based solutions during travel across rural and urban Cambodia. While on the road, students visit key conservation sites along the Mekong River, gain appreciation for Cambodia’s recent history in Phnom Penh, and discover coastal ecosystems and development pressures in Kampot Province.

The program also travels overland to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where students experience contrasting political, social, and economic systems from those of Cambodia. Students explore key environmental issues in the Delta including climate change, water resource use, and agricultural development.

 

Visit the program website for more information.

CHINA: Sustainable Development

Program: CIEE

Location: Beijing, China

Want to gain insight into sustainability in greater China? Come to Beijing, and you’ll brainstorm ways to balance environmental, sociocultural, and economic needs. Through diversified coursework, excursions, and independent research, all of China will become your laboratory. This is a program that will forever change the way you look at China and the world around you.

Study abroad in Beijing and you'll:

  • Gain an understanding of sustainability and its relevance within China and the world
  • Select nonintensive, Mandarin Chinese study, without language prerequisites, or choose to focus on area studies only
  • Learn about environmental, sociocultural, and economic issues in contemporary China
  • Participate in two trips, including a 10-day field study, where you’ll experience the lives of rural and minority peoples in China
  • Be part of a highly acclaimed, multicultural campus that has the feel of a small, liberal arts college

Visit the program website for more information.

Costa Rica: Sustainability + the Environment

Program: CIEE

Location: Monteverde, Costa Rica

“Newsweek” declared Monteverde one of the world’s top places to remember before it disappears. Get to know why the city’s beautiful and rare cloud forest habitat is so important to the country and the planet on CIEE’s Sustainability and the Environment program. At our Study Center in the heart of the cloud forest, you’ll dig into wildlife conservation, environmental education, alternative agriculture, ecotourism, reforestation, sustainable building, environmental art, or green energy – and maybe help the world in the process.

Study abroad in Monteverde and you’ll:

  • Participate in specially designed CIEE courses on sustainability and tropical conservation
  • Travel to remote and unique locations in Costa Rica and Nicaragua
  • Intern with local organizations, businesses, or farms dedicated to sustainable development
  • Live with a Costa Rican family and immerse yourself in the culture and language
  • Explore the sustainability of alternative energy, food systems, agriculture, nature reserves, and tourism in Costa Rica
  • Take excursions to protected areas of endangered biological and cultural diversity to learn about their threats and what can do to save them

Visit the program website for more information.

COSTA RICA: Sustainable Development Studies

Program: SFS

Location: Atenas, Costa Rica

The program examines different development and resource management models that Costa Rica uses to protect the biodiversity of its ecosystems while promoting socioeconomic benefits for its people. Students examine the effects of globalization on development issues such as agriculture, biodiversity protection, economic development, urban sprawl, population growth, waste management, and water quality. Students can see how the SFS Center farm compares with other sustainable farms in the region through an assessment of ecosystem services in the agricultural landscape.

This program focuses on evaluating the actual success of Costa Rica’s world-renowned conservation systems and developing alternative strategies for economic development and biodiversity conservation, such as land-use planning, organic agriculture, and conservation outside of protected areas. Visits to cloud forests, dry forests, volcanoes, lowland rainforests, farms, and plantations offer opportunities to examine management schemes, identify benefits of protected areas, and determine which systems offer the best options for economic development, the maintenance of cultural norms, and the preservation of biodiversity. Understanding the priorities for Costa Rica’s policies, within the context of environmental changes, is crucial as students analyze potential sustainable solutions for Costa Rica and the Central American region.

Visit the program website for more information.

DENMARK: Sustainability

Program: DIS

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Examine the social, political, and economic issues associated with sustainable development and the range of Danish and European stakeholders shaping the sustainability agenda.

Program Highlights

  • Use Copenhagen as a classroom by visiting some of the world’s most progressive sustainability initiatives, such as the European Environment Agency, Risø National Laboratory for Renewable Energy, and the NGO Energy Crossroads
  • Travel with your classmates and DIS faculty on course-integrated study tours to leading Danish and Northern European destinations with cutting-edge sustainability strategies from off-shore wind power to urban redevelopment
  • Create your own strategic plan for a sustainable future by drawing on your classroom experiences, field studies, and study tour visits

Visit the program website for more information.

GERMANY: Global Sustainability & Environment

Program: CIEE

Location: Berlin, Germany

There’s no better place to study sustainability than in Berlin, a city leading the way in sustainable innovation. On our Global Sustainability and Environment program, you’ll examine sustainable urban design and the tools necessary to create a smarter urban future. Courses at one of the best technical colleges in the country will expand your knowledge. Excursions to sites of sustainable development bring theories learned in class to life. And a partnership with one of the world’s most advanced engineering firms gives you a chance to develop solutions to a real-world problem facing Berlin. You’ll do all this and more while immersing yourself in fascinating German history and culture.

Study abroad in Berlin and you’ll:

  • Visit sustainable development projects, government agencies, and sites of environmental challenges
  • Hear from, and interact with, local environmental engineers, researchers, ecologists, sociologists, policymakers, and economists
  • See your work published in a shared online student journal

Visit the program website for more information.

GERMANY: Environmental Studies & Sustainability

Program: IES

Location: Freiburg, Germany

The environmental movement took root in Freiburg long ago—and now it’s a way of life. Known for taking the lead in the development of eco-friendly technologies and architecture, Freiburg also attracts researchers and environmental organizations from around the world. Come study Freiburg’s many unique contributions to this important movement.

Freiburg and the surrounding regions will be your classroom. Imagine traveling to the Rhine River to take samples and observe local ecology, or the forests of the Swiss Alps to further your discussions on forest management and tourism. Wherever possible, your courses take you outside the classroom to give you hands-on experience and to take advantage of all that your study abroad location has to offer.

Visit the program website for more information.

Iceland & Greenland: Climate Change and The Arctic

Program: SIT

Location: Iceland & Greenland

Study climate models, carbon management, and the impact of climate change on Arctic ecosystems and societies. Visit renewable energy centers and glaciers amidst Iceland’s and Greenland’s unique landscapes.

Major topics of study include:

  • An overview of Arctic climate, landforms, and ecosystems and how humans interact with them
  • The impact of climate change on animal, plant, and human communities in the Arctic and how these communities adjust
  • Climate modeling and trends, including a chance to develop your own climate models
  • Renewable energy systems
  • Carbon management
  • Indigenous knowledge of changes in climate
  • Communicating climate change and science
  • How changes—from potential sea level rise to accessibility to resources previously under ice— will affect the globe
  • The consequences of climate change and ideas to solve the problems it creates
  • Scientific methods, data collection, and ethics of climate research

Visit the program website for more information.

ITALY: Sustainable Agriculture, Food, and Justice

Program: HECUA

Location: Castello Sonnino, Montespertoli, Tuscany, Italy

Live and study at the intersection of food politics, sustainability, and culture on a working farm in Tuscany.

In this new program, students explore how culture and food production intersect in Italy. They learn about Italian and European agricultural movements and initiatives and their political and cultural contexts. They see firsthand how people in Tuscany and Italy are working for sustainability—agricultural, environmental, cultural, and economic.

Students also learn how agriculture and food policy, business practices, and financial structures within Italy and across the European Union affect the health and wealth of farmers, workers, families, and communities.

Visit the program website for more information.

INDIA: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Program: SIT

Location: Jaipur, India

This program examines the diverse factors, internal and global, shaping India's development strategies and patterns. You will gain foundational knowledge of India’s past, present, and future development paradigms, economic growth, and development alternatives. The program is based in Jaipur, a historical city in the state of Rajasthan.

Major topics of study include:

  • Development concepts, theories and approaches
  • India’s transition: post-1990s
  • Rural and urban development: crisis, challenges, and response
  • Moving beyond developmentality
  • Creating a roadmap for sustainability in India and radical ecological democracy (RED) 
  • Development alternative interventions and case studies

Visit the program website for more information.

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand Culture and the Environment: A Shared Future

Program: HECUA

Location: New Zealand

HECUA and colleagues in New Zealand have developed an interdisciplinary study abroad program devoted to the interconnections of society and the environment in New Zealand. The program examines how social and environmental factors are shaping political and ecological dimensions of identity and culture, and how New Zealanders from many different backgrounds are envisioning and creating a shared future in Aotearoa New Zealand, the "Land of the Long White Cloud."

The program is based in Wellington, with field study in areas around the North Island, including the Waikato and the Taupo regions, a Māori community on the flanks of Mt Ruapehu, Wellington, and the greater Auckland area. Field seminars focus on environmental management, biodiversity protection, Māori culture, national public policy, and urban planning.

Visit the program website for more information.

SOUTH AFRICA: Global Sustainability & Environment

Program: CIEE

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is a microcosm of the challenges facing many African cities in transition – making it the perfect location to study sustainability, urban systems and community. During CIEE’s Global Sustainability and Environment program, local experts and CIEE’s expert staff will provide the tools you need to develop a deep understanding of sustainability in a local and global context, while working on real-world projects in Cape Town. This program is a life-changing learning experience. You’ll also experience South African culture by living with a host family for a weekend, going on trips and excursions throughout the country, and more.

Study abroad in Cape Town and you’ll:

  • Spend three days with a host family in a former South African township
  • Experience life in an EcoVillage
  • Learn to speak Afrikaans or isiXhosa
  • Attend local theater, music and dance productions, and sporting matches like rugby and soccer

Visit the program website for more information.

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation & Political Ecology

Program: SIT

Location: Tanzania

Explore the balance between ecological concerns and socioeconomic objectives in the vast wilderness expanses of northern Tanzania.

Major topics of study include:

  • Wildlife ecology
  • Conservation, environmental issues, and national park management
  • Life and culture, history, politics/economics, and current events
  • Relationships between socioeconomic objectives, ecological parameters, and cultural transitions from multi scale/actor perspectives in various Tanzanian landscapes

Visit the program website for more information.

USA: Environmental Sustainability: Ecology, Policy, and Social Transformation

Program: HECUA

Location: Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

In the land of lakes and rivers, Minneapolis and St. Paul are built within a rich natural landscape that is home to one of the most active networks of environmental organizations in the country. Students also participate in internships and in a grant funded community based research project. This program takes an integrated approach to environmental issues, addressing the linkages between rural and urban concerns as well as the way local decisions relate to regional and global trends. Topics include climate change, environmental justice, sustainable agriculture, land use management and watershed protection, industrial pollution, alternative energy, and social movements.

The program includes field experiences that focus on basic ecosystem evaluation. Short trips throughout the semester offer opportunities to integrate theory and practice. As part of the field methods course, students carry out on-the-ground research as part of a community-based project. HECUA also designs an internship experience for all students that meets personal learning goals and connects program themes. Extraordinary mentors in the environmental arena lead students to participate in meaningful work during the internship portion of the program.

Visit the program website for more information.

MULTIPLE SITES: Climate Change: The Politics of Food, Water, and Energy

Program: SIT

Locations: USA, Vietnam, Morocco, Bolivia

This program examines the interconnections between the economics, politics, geography, and science of climate change and its effects on human society. You will learn about the varied impacts of climate change — extreme weather, desertification, ocean acidification, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, and dangerous social upheavals — and will be encouraged to think seriously about realistic solutions.

Key questions:

  • How is climate change impacting regions differently? How are people adapting to these changes?
  • What are the appropriate roles of government, business, social movements, and individuals in addressing this multifaceted crisis?
  • Which technologies and traditional forms of local knowledge can realistically meet humanity’s need for energy in a sustainable way?
  • What are the economic interests and institutional arrangements that prevent us from more effectively addressing the climate crisis?

Visit the program website for more information.