International Educator - May/June 2012 - 43
has even written into its strategic plan that experiences in the developing world are encouraged in order for students to “understand the urgency and complexity of such issues as environmental degradation, overpopulation, and nonsustainable growth—both at home and abroad.” There are now a multitude of resources to help individual students, education abroad programs, and entire campuses manage travel with greater consciousness of their impact on the earth’s limited resources. There is also a veritable explosion of intriguing and valuable opportunities for students and faculty to learn about, practice, and promote sustainability in all its manifestations while studying abroad.
northwestern university public health student Mary Poliwka helps install an underground pipe to bring clean running water to a remote area of Ssese Island, uganda.
The Green Passport program offers a sustainable travel option that is readily available to every student and study abroad program. The seed for the program was planted when Rodney Vargas, an assistant director in the education abroad office at the University of North Carolina, saw a sign in Costa Rica that said, “Take only photos and leave only footprints.” Concerned about the impact of growing numbers of students studying all over the world, he shared his ideas on a sustainability listserv initiated by Greenberg. “What if we give our students guidelines for respecting and improving the environment wherever they travel and study?” So GreenPassport.us was born, now boasting about a thousand members, including students who sign a pledge to minimize their impact on the environment, act in culturally respectful ways, and give back to the local community. The Web site and accompanying Facebook page provide resources and networking opportunities for students and professionals. Katie Bell, director of Green Passport and also assistant director of the Center for International Experience at Yale, is eager to expand membership beyond a self-selected minority. She is already pleased with the growing interest among professionals. There are multiple conference sessions now on greening international education, in part because sustainability has become an institutional priority for many universities. “You don’t have to be an expert on environmental issues in every country. Just have a spark of interest or a university mandate. You need that starting point and there are lots of resources available,” says Bell. Another resource is a blog called “Rising Green,” the brainchild of Tufts University graduate Adrian Dahlin. Dahlin’s goal is to use his new blog and ac-
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