International Educator - May/June 2012 - 41
University of Georgia student Dana Schroeder participating in a reforestation activity for the University of Georgia costa Rica carbon Oﬀset Program.
TUDY ABROAD probably is the single most important kind of travel that people can be doing,” says environmentalist and author Bill McKibben. “You can push the envelope more than we are, and then when people come home, they should come home changed. If people don’t come home changed, then it was a waste of money and a waste of carbon.” Students frequently describe their education abroad experiences as life changing, but McKibben ascribes a much broader meaning to change during a video interview for the Abroad View Foundation: “How do you live on half the energy that an American does and live a life that is at least as dignified as ours? This question alone can be more than the basis for six months of fruitful study abroad,” says McKibben. It turns out there are also multiple meanings of “sustainability” when it comes to international education. For decades, a sustainable education abroad program meant having overseas staff, curriculum, and facilities that functioned relatively seamlessly year after year. Then “environmental sustainability” entered the lexicon with concerns about climate change, global warming, and carbon emissions, and the startling realization that, as McKibben puts it, “That one airplane trip to wherever you are going requires the consumption of more fuel and more carbon than most people in the world will use in a year for all the tasks of their daily life.”
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M AY + J U N E . 12 InternatIonal educator
This article is the first in an occasional series of features about peace and social justice issues in international education.