Environmental Studies is rapidly becoming one of the most important academic disciplines available as it encompasses many defining questions of our modern era. Sustainability and environmental preservation are global issues at core, and environmental study abroad programs will introduce you to new ways by which we can tear down barriers and build up a healthier planet.
No matter where you go, studying abroad will break you out of your comfort zone and change the way you see the world. Different countries vary drastically in their efficiency and sustainability of infrastructure, presenting a wide array of problems which remain to be solved by environmental scientists around the globe. When all is said and done, environmental study abroad programs will teach you that despite our differences, we all walk the same earth which we must help each other protect.
When choosing a location to pursue environmental studies abroad, the first decision you must make is whether you’d like to travel to the developed or developing world. Advanced and underdeveloped economies each present their unique set of challenges and perspectives on environmental issues, and you decision can greatly influence how you come to think about the broader issues at hand.
If you study abroad in a developed country or region, such as Europe, North America, Australia, or Japan, then the focus of your environmental study abroad program will likely be on large scale issues, such as policy, global sustainability, and urban planning. The infrastructure of these areas tends to be developed enough so that citizens enjoy access to potable drinking water, functional sewage, and other such amenities. With these basic needs cared for, universities and environmental leaders can focus more on macro-level issues and the effects of these “amenities” on the environment.
In the developing world you will face a different side of environmental studies abroad, as these countries work to build up more advanced infrastructures. Pressing environmental issues, such as pollution, waste management, and disease control, often take a front seat as they tend to present significant challenges in both urban and rural areas. Environmental study abroad programs in countries in Central America, Africa, or Southeast Asia can be a fantastic opportunity for students to work hands on with these foundational issues and explore how sustainability differs between the first and third world.
Environmental studies is a far reaching discipline which covers a diversity of subject matters. From Marine Science to Urban Planning to Environmental Engineering to Ecology and Conservation, many subtopics which concentrate on the earth and how we interact with it find their home in this field. The exact courses that are offered by environmental study abroad programs will vary by location and program structure, so make sure to take the course catalogue into account when researching different study abroad options.
Since language barriers can present a significant obstacle to entering the university system in most countries, many environmental study abroad programs will provide you with the alternative of studying at a smaller international school or at the provider’s satellite institution instead. At these alternative institutions, the course load tends to be diverse in nature and serve largely as an orientation to the city or country you are studying abroad in, however many offer classes in the environmental studies too!
There are also many focused environmental study abroad programs, and some even combine studying abroad with supplemental volunteering or internship opportunities. Studying abroad can be a great way to not only receive academic credit, but also gain hands on experience in your preferred specialty within the field. There are environmental studies programs are available during an semester or term, so you can easily communicate with your home university about which option will be most plausible for your degree track.
Studying environmental studies abroad will prove to be a groundbreaking learning experience. It is a truly universal discipline and you will find it fascinating and highly educational to explore how different cultures approach and analyze environmental issues. Whatever your area of focus in the field of environmental studies, the value of studying abroad goes far beyond the four walls of a classroom. Environmental study abroad programs will take you out in the world, where you will be absorbing and learning from everything around you, so you can return home a more socially and environmentally conscious person.