Global Opportunities with a Sustainability Focus
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Penn Abroad offers a variety of global opportunities with a focus on sustainability, climate justice, and conservation. Learn more about our programs that focus on sustainability below.
Students live on a campus in the Cloud Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica. They take a set list of courses (no alternate choices are available) including “Humans in the Tropics”, “Tropical Community Ecology”, “Tropical Diversity”, and complete an Independent Research project. All biology-related courses are taught in English, while there is one mandatory Spanish language & grammar class while on site. The program is extremely hands-on, with students doing hiking, trekking, collecting specimens and working with them in the lab, and even visiting a local chocolate producer to learn about ecotourism and sustainable production of chocolate. Two semesters of Spanish are required, and 2 semesters of biology are required in order to be eligible to apply.
The Berlin Consortium for German Studies (BCGS) has two programs -- its original program, designed for German immersion, and a newer option for language learners who seek content courses in English. The English language option is works in partnership with FU-BEST to host a multi-faceted program open to students seeking their first exposure to European culture and German language, or those with limited German background. Featuring courses from top-tier faculty in English as well as German language, students can learn about cultural and political life of contemporary Germany and Europe. Plus, there are several courses focused on climate and sustainability. Despite being in a cohort with other students from US universities, participants still can participate in excursions, clubs, and student life through Freie Universitaet Berlin.
Bocconi University (Università Bocconi) is a private university located near the city center of Milan. Founded in 1902, Bocconi was the first university in Italy to grant a degree in economics, and today is recognized as one of Europe’s leading institutions in business and economics education. Their offerings include several business courses focused on sustainability.
Central European University (CEU) is one of the most international universities in the world. Its rare mix of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures creates an ideal environment for examining such “open society” subjects as emerging democracies, transitional economies, media freedom, nationalism and human rights. All of the students at CEU are working toward a better, more just and sustainable global society. Check out their courses in environmental sciences and policy.
Copenhagen Business School (CBS) is one of the largest business schools in Europe with 20,000 full- and part-time students. CBS teaches traditional courses in Economics, Management, and Business Administration but is also well known for cross-disciplinary research and teaching. Students can combine business with subjects such as philosophy, political science, psychology, and/or communication. See their offerings of business courses focused on sustainability.
The Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) offers Penn students a unique opportunity to add a practical international experience to their studies. Penn students take courses in RSM's master's programs and participate in the International Consultancy Project: a real-life consultancy project carried out by a team of international students and supervised by both an academic and corporate coach. See their variety of business courses focused on sustainability. Outside of class, Penn students enjoy RSM's very active student life and benefit from the buddy system in place for exchange students.
Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) is one of Europe’s leading business schools, and the top business school is Scandanavia. SSE has an amazing reputation and is consistently ranked by the Financial Times as the number one business school in the Nordic countries. SSE works with the international business community as well as highly ranked universities and business schools around the world, welcoming about 200 exchange students from business schools from all over the world. SSE also offers several business courses focused on sustainability.
Students who participate in this program will be part of the Programme in European Culture and Society (PECS) at the KU Leuven Faculty of Arts, which is designed to offer students from around the world a unique experience while pursuing a variety of academic disciplines taught in English. The courses offered cover a wide range of fields from the arts, social sciences, political science, psychology, religion, philosophy, and much more. Course offerings include topics such as Global Environmental Politics, Environmental Philosophy, Environmental History. Wharton students can also take classes within the Faculty of Economics and Business. PECS participants take classes with full-time students from KU Leuven, as well as students from the rest of the world.
United Kingdom & Ireland
Cork prides itself on its sustainability initiatives! For example, they have a series of books for young children describing the importance of bees and their impact on ecology. Recently, Cork has removed its tended flower gardens on its campus and replaced them with all native, wild plants. They also promote sustainable activities with their student population, for example, at the end of the semester they encourage students to donate their apartment accessories, such as lamps, kitchen utensils and appliances, clothing in good condition, etc. so that new study abroad or first-year students can go “shopping” for these used items at a very low price. Cork has a number of awards, initiatives, and partnerships relating to sustainability, including being ranking 9th globally in the UI Green Metric World University Ranking of sustainable universities.
Australia & New Zealand
Located in Townsville AND Cairns, James Cook is at the precipice of the great barrier reef. It’s a great place for environmental science, biology, or other majors that are interested in studying ecosystems and sustainability. James Cook has been recognized as among the world’s biggest contributors to marine conservation and sustainability research, related to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14: “Life below water”.
USyd’s Sustainability Program was named a finalist for both the Sustainability International Impact Award and Study Abroad and Exchange Experience of the Year! Students can undertake this program on a co-curricular basis alongside our credit-bearing coursework on sustainability, or they can enroll on a extra-curricular basis with a suite of volunteering activities, lectures and challenges structured around five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with completion resulting in the award of a digital badge.
Middle East & Africa
CIEE Gaborone, housed at the University of Botswana, allows students an opportunity to take courses across various departments at the university. In a country known for having some of the best wilderness and wildlife areas on the African continent, the university has a robust department for Environmental Health and Environment Science. Some available courses may include: Environment and Disease, Urbanization and Environment, Energy and Environment, Rural Development Theory and Practice, Ecotourism.
CIEE Cape Town, housed at the University of Cape Town, allows students an opportunity to take courses across various departments at the university. Cape Town is home to a large range of biodiversity, and students can take courses in the university’s Faculty of Science in departments such as Botany, Environmental and Geographical Science, Oceanography, and Zoology.
Major Specific Programs
Urban Studies majors only
Through the prism of social justice, examine how four truly global cities—New York, Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and Cape Town—work and operate within the global economy. This program takes a holistic and interdisciplinary view of academic topics, drawing not only from articles and faculty lectures but also student observations, guest lectures, and homestay experiences. Meet with thought leaders and academics, public agencies, planners, elected officials, non-governmental organizations, and grassroots groups to see how urban citizens organize to envision, build, and create more just cities. Explore how COVID-19 realities have reshaped urban spaces. Along the way, you will focus on fieldwork methods, practice and ethics whilst completing an independent comparative project on a topic of your choice. By immersing yourself in four international cities undergoing rapid change, compare how global politics, economics, local geography, and culture shape social relations in cities across continents, and how each faces its unique challenges.
Health and Societies majors only
Learn how communities around the world understand and strive for health and well-being. Compare strategies of health and community across four radically different country contexts and at global and local scales, through case studies, ethnographic research, and visits with a diverse array of health practitioners and local activists.
Sustainable Development in Ho Chi Minh City is an opportunity for students to be considered for various internship placements in the field of Environmental Sustainability in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world with a booming economy and ever-increasing construction and foreign investment. The fast growth and speedy development of the economy raise the awareness of sustainability as a way to preserve the health of the country. Jobs in environmental sustainability for public, non-profit and industry sectors are in high demand. With the ability to face real issues that affect developing countries, Ho Chi Minh City is a safe and dynamic place to be and to intern. From going onsite for wastewater quality surveys, analyzing environmental impacts of a new building plan, or organizing press releases for a sustainability entrepreneurship incubator program, the intern experience will be filled with meaningful and valuable tasks.
Students who are looking to gain experience in fields like architecture, business development, civil engineering, communications, environmental engineering, environment and software architecture, green building, renewable energy, sustainable entrepreneurship, and urban planning are encouraged to apply.
Laurence Sterne wrote most of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and all of A Sentimental Journey in the house called Shandy Hall in the village of Coxwold, North Yorkshire. The interesting 15th-century house (with two acres of beautiful gardens) was first opened to the public in 1973 and is also home to the Curator, who is responsible for the care of the building and its collection on behalf of The Laurence Sterne Trust. Shandy Hall is an accredited museum with an exceptional collection of books, prints, and paintings relating to Sterne and the 18th century. The museum attracts visitors and researchers from all over the world.
Students who are looking to gain experience in museum curating and/or environmental studies are encouraged to apply.
The Engineering Research in Singapore program is part of the Summer Engineering Research Internship for U.S. Students (SERIUS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The SERIUS program provides students from specific U.S. partner universities to conduct research at the National University of Singapore (NUS). In addition to developing research skills and finding out what's at the cutting edge in engineering and technology, students learn from faculty and researchers who are experts in their field in a different culture.
The Galápagos Education and Research Alliance (GERA) is a partnership between Galapagueños and students and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, and Virginia Tech. They address crucial issues facing the Galápagos, including science, education, and conservation initiatives, by partnering with the people of the Galápagos, especially the community of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal Island.
Travel in May 2024
Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability
Dr. Alain Plante, Department of Earth and Environmental Science; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Iceland
This course aims to introduce students to myriad Earth and environmental issues (understanding how humans interact, affect and are influenced by our environment) through the analysis of several environmental cases studies, as well as giving students an introduction to how complex cases are analyzed and what goes into decision-making at the individual, group, state, federal and global levels. Students will select, research and present a case study on an environmental topic specific to Iceland. Potential case study topics within environmental sustainability can span the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. At the end of the semester, case studies will be put into practice during the field trip through site visits with local university faculty and practitioners.
Tourism, Sustainability and Local Impact in Indonesia
Dr. Helen Jeoung, Critical Writing Program; School of Arts and Sciences
Travel to Indonesia
Fulfills Writing Seminar Requirement. Priority will be given to first-year students, but all students (except graduating seniors) who have not yet taken a writing seminar are eligible to apply.
In this writing seminar we focus on Indonesia as a window into the complex dynamics and impacts of tourism. Many visitors travel to Bali and other Indonesian destinations for cultural exploration, adventure tourism or beach vacations. The tourism industry supports the local economy and promotes cultural heritage, yet tourism in Indonesia has an uneasy relationship with local culture and environmental sustainability. We explore these issues by reading The Changing World of Bali by Leo Howe, and students pursue subsequent research and writing in related topics. The course also includes travel to Bali at the end of the semester. We will connect with local institutions to hear local perspectives on the tourism industry, and visit a range of tourist sites, including religious temples, hotels, beaches, and open-air markets.