Thursday, October 15, 2009

International Educational Exchange and Climate Change

This is my second IHEC Blog post today in support of Blog Action Day 2009 (actually my third if you count my introduction post earlier this morning). In this IHEC Blog post I’m highlighting some of the efforts in the field of international education and exchange that bring awareness to climate change as well as the efforts to green the field in the development of more environmentally and socially responsible study abroad programs.

Causes & Social Networks & Listservs

- 350 Study Abroad (
- The Green Passport Program (
- Sustainabilityabroad -- Sustainability in Study Abroad (

Standards of Good Practice

- Forum on Education Abroad Sustainability Standards (

Institutional Efforts/Programs

-Tulane University’s Carbon Offset Program ( Starting in the fall of 2009, Tulane University students studying abroad, as well as foreign students studying at Tulane, will have the option of purchasing carbon offsets for their air travel to and from their study abroad destination. These carbon offsets will take the form of installing energy-saving light bulbs in small towns throughout Louisiana in partnership with the environmental organization Green Light New Orleans (GLNO). A trip will be organized each semester for students who wish to volunteer to personally install light bulbs to offset their air travel to their study abroad destination.

- Connecticut State University System ( will be hosting an international education conference (Tomorrow!) entitled “International Perspectives: What Do We Mean by Green”. The conference is designed to provide participants with opportunities to: “Make connections important to raising awareness about global concerns and inter-national issues; Provide opportunities for CSU colleagues to compare curricular strategies among CSU campuses and with the international partners we have in common; and, Learn about promising instructional strategies that help CSU students gain the knowledge and skills required for participation and leadership in a greening economy.

- Middlebury's Sustainable Study Abroad initiatives
1. Sustainable Study Abroad Grant program (
2. Carbon Offset Program (
3. Green Passport (
4. (
5. Going Green Guide for Directors Abroad (
6. resources for students on sustainable travel

More info on all of these programs/initiatives can be found here: or by contacting Stacey Thebodo at

- Clemson University offers a summer program in Trier, Germany, teaching "Sustainable Energy & the Environment" ( For more info, contact Jessica Pelfrey ( - Program Coordinator, College of Engineering & Science.

- Brandeis University launched a new “Brandeis Forum on Environmental Crisis” in late September with a blogging-type website ( It is not specifically study abroad, but attempts to include student overseas experiences and global perspectives.

Organizational Efforts/Programs

- GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Sustainable Study Abroad initiatives
1. GlobaLinks NewsWire Participating in Blog Action Day (
2. GlobaLinks Partners With Colorado Carbon Fund, Nation’s First Statewide Carbon Offsetting Program (
3. GlobaLinks Now Official Green Passport Program Sponsor

- Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Environmental Justice Exchange Program (
Funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State, the educational and cultural exchange will provide leadership training opportunities to 18 Chinese and American women and men, particularly members of minority groups, who are active in environmental justice efforts. Participants in the program will jointly examine the environmental burdens, including climate change impacts, on minority communities and low-income populations in the U.S. and China and will be mentored in designing projects to advance environmental justice for those communities. Applications available now via the link above. (Thanks to @EducationUSAhk for posting to Twitter about this!)

- The Foundation for International Education (FIE) has a Mission for Environmental Responsibly ( that informs its decisions and strategy both inside and outside the classroom. FIE has a standing committee that meets regularly to ensure that environmental sustainability is embedded in all aspects of operational delivery and in all departments within the company

- IES Abroad’s Go Green Initiative (

- Academic Programs International (API) (
1. API offer several academic and volunteer/experiential options for students who are environmentally minded. All of their programs in Costa Rica have at least one course dedicated to environmental or ecological studies. One program in particular at the International Center for Development Studies focuses on environment and sustainability as its main academic theme. There are a number of volunteer and service opportunities for API students in Costa Rica that work towards improving the environment, such as a sea turtle rescue program, and environmental conservation efforts.
2. API also has instituted a project across all of our sites called API Gives Back. The API Gives Back Project in each site may consist of an ongoing volunteer opportunity or a one-day commitment. The goal of the project is to help API students express their thanks for the welcome they received by the local community. Many of these projects also focus on the environment, such as a recent effort by their students in Cadiz, Spain to restore marshlands in the area (here is a link to some of these photos on their Facebook page:
3. API's Office Green-Over
(talk about serious commitment! – my editorial)
From API:
The inside of our ‘new’ building was completely gutted and rebuilt just for us. It’s all built to code for
today’s standards.
⁂ The new insulation is much more efficient than in older buildings – less energy waste.
⁂ Programmable thermostat - for automated control of the office temperature. No need to waste electricity
while heating or cooling the building at night or during the weekend.
⁂ Motion activated lights - automatically turn off if there is no movement after awhile.
⁂ Window blinds – we can close them when the sun gets too hot to keep the rooms from heating up.
⁂ The ‘new’ cubicles are actually old cubes that were refurbished… we gave the landfill some extra room to breathe!
⁂ Water fountains with fresh, tasty H2O! No more plastic bottles!
⁂ No more plastic cups, plates, knives, forks or spoons. It’s all reusable utensils now.
⁂ When disposable cups are necessary, we now have Eco-Products (check out which are
fully compostable hot cups and were engineered using compostable PLA corn plastic from renewable
⁂ Individual recycling bins at each desk and a larger one in the kitchen - no excuses for not recycling.
⁂ Don’t forget about our new green technology - the online application and forms system saves lots of
energy, paper, and postage. The new student pens were made from recycled newspaper. We’ll also be
printing fewer catalogs next year to save a ton of paper.
Other initiatives have included printing fewer catalogs and materials (and enhancing their capabilities to do so on demand rather than printing more than what they need and may not use). They also limit the amount of paper materials (brochures) that they send out to general requests, and direct students to their website for online versions and pdfs of their applications, catalogs, etc. They have made a concerted effort to give preference to online applications rather than paper ones, including offering a scholarship as an incentive for applying online. In the near future the vast majority of their forms and communication will be electronic as opposed to paper.

Many thanks to all who e-mailed me and left comments on my announcement that IHEC Blog would participate in Blog Action Day 2009.
Very much appreciated!

Please see my earlier Blog Action Day 2009 post entitled “
The Human Face of Climate Change” to learn more about what CARE is doing in this area.

If you are aware of other initiatives that should be added to this list please leave a comment about the program/initiative and provide more information and/or a link on where more detailed information can be obtained.


  1. The following was e-mailed to me from a colleague:

    Living Routes--study abroad in ecovillages.
    Contact Daniel Greenberg,

  2. I just learned that NAFSA Region VI Ohio has a Green Coordinator position. How cool is that!?!?

  3. For the 2010 NAFSA annual conference (via NAFSA has partnered with to provide conference attendees with an easy way to offset their travel to Kansas City and participation in the conference. Learn more and offset your carbon footprint at

  4. Nice to see that NAFSA has a Green Initiatives webpage at and that they included information with link to this webpage in their May 4, 2010

  5. Just What is in API’s Carbon Reduction Project Portfolio Anyway? at

  6. International Higher Education Consulting and Bury Book International Education Library & Archive are Greener and will now "Save as WWF" at

  7. Going Green: Sustainability in Study Abroad & Responsible Travel: Articles, Multi-Media, Websites, Books, Organisations via Abroad View at

  8. "5 Ways to Design Sustainable Study Abroad Programs" via Sustainability Education Blog at

  9. "3+ Ways to Green Study Abroad Promotional Activities" via Sustainability Education Blog at

  10. "Sustaining Study Abroad" a March 12, 2009 article by @insidehighered at

  11. NAFSA 2011 Annual Conference Green Initiatives at

  12. "Sustainability in Study Abroad" resource on @NAFSA website at

  13. "20 Steps to Sustainable Study Abroad" by @GoGreenTraveler at

  14. Are you subscribed to Sustainabilityabroad -- Sustainability in Study Abroad listserv at

  15. Tips For Going Green Abroad via the IES Go Green Initiative at

  16. GlobaLinks Learning Abroad's Green Initiative at