International Educator - May/June 2012 - 42
It didn’t take too long for sustainability to take on an expanded sensibility that actually takes those people into account. “For us to thrive, if not survive, not only do we need to all live within the earth’s caring capacity, we all have to rise above an equity baseline.… Sustainability is living well and lightly together,” says Daniel Greenberg, executive director of Living Routes, a study abroad program focused on ecovillages.
The sustainability guidelines at Azusa Pacific University in California acknowledge that until quite recently, “host cultures and ecosystems have been perceived as merely the stage for acting out highly personalized and short-lived experiences abroad, with no particular moral questions or obligations.” Now, however, sustainable education abroad involves awareness of a particular quality of life: “A ‘sustainable’ community is one where social, environmental, and economic factors produce a life system that is socially bearable, economically equitable, and environmentally viable.” In addition, continue the Azusa guidelines, “economically sustainable study abroad calls for us to stay cognizant of who actually gains and loses financially from our presence abroad.” mitment. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has created a widely used Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS). Originally, says Greenberg, 90 percent of the people at an AASHE conference would be facilities managers; now at least half the people are faculty promoting the sociocultural aspects of sustainability as well. “For many years I felt I was a misfit,” recalled Greenberg. “No one was talking about sustainability at study abroad conferences and no one was talking about study abroad at sustainability conferences. There is a growing nexus of these ideas and we are going to have to pave the way.” Along with other members of NAFSA’s sustainability member interest group, Greenberg is pushing to add sustainability criteria about off-campus programs to STARS. His Sustainability Education Blog offers a system to rate study abroad programs in four areas of sustainability: ■ Program design and management: Is there input from the local community? Are goods and materials sourced locally? ■ Curriculum and student learning: Are there opportunities for students to help in the local area? Are faculty and staff aware of environmental issues in the community? ■ Staﬀ training and oﬃce management: Does the office promote recycling and minimizing use of resources? IES Abroad gave its annual Green Center Award to its facility in Rome for creating elevated container gardens to grow produce on the Center terrace; donating leftover food, books, and computers to local organizations; and partnering with the Slow Food Rome, an organization to promote local food traditions. ■ Program promotion: Are programs promoted in resource-light ways—minimizing printed materials and staff travel? Greenberg, for example, appears at study abroad fairs via Skype from a laptop on the Living Routes exhibit table. Many international educators agree that “international education is uniquely positioned to contribute to the search for and sharing of sustainable solutions within diverse societies.”1 Berea College in Kentucky
InternatIonal educator M AY + J U N E .1 2
a student volunteer (from a Global Brigades project) works with community members in the indigenous community of Piriati embera, Panama, to install a raised seed bed as part of the integrated organic garden students are helping to construct in individual family homes.
The Universitas Indonesia’s GreenMetric Ranking of World Universities is also based on the principle that measuring sustainability should involve economics, environment, and equity, with equity referring to the need to make society benefit not only the rich but also be fair to everyone. Many colleges and universities now have offices of sustainability, green pledges, and eco-friendly dormitories. There are 674 signatories to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Com-