Sustainable Summer Sessions: A transformative and global learning experience

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: August 14th, 2019

Do you crave the opportunity to live in the tropics for a few weeks while studying natural resources and sustainability from up close?

That is a reality thanks to the Sustainable Summer Sessions – the summertime study abroad offered by EARTH University’s International Academic Relations (RAI) office. Students and professors from more than 32 universities across North America have already experienced it.

Group of students paying attention during fieldwork

Sustainable Summer Session students during fieldwork

The program features five intensive, English-taught courses that teach cutting-edge perspectives on environmental sustainability and its implementation. This enriching knowledge exchange boasts unique experiences and promotes the transformative, global learning outlined in our mission statement: To prepare leaders with ethical values to contribute to sustainable development and to construct a prosperous and just society.


Tropical Forest Carbon Management Making Agriculture Sustainable
Engaging Rural Communities Tackling Environmental Issues
Food, Energy and Water Systems

Glowing reviews

Summer Gray (a San Diego State University student) decided to dedicate part of her summer vacation to learning abroad. She discovered our Sustainable Summer Sessions and knew the experience would enhance her degree back home.

“Great campus, great support from the RAI office, everyone is so kind and friendly. Curriculum is more hands-on than classroom-based, and you learn more through fieldwork. Once you get to Costa Rica, the trip is all-inclusive: transportation, food, lodging, activities, school supplies, and field supplies,” Summer wrote in a review on the website Go Abroad. “The students are so welcoming, and the traditions on campus warm your heart. The university is very diverse, so you will meet many people not from Costa Rica originally.”

Check out the many other rapturous reviews here, here and here.

World-class scholars

Another feature of this program is the participation of renowned academics visiting from other institutions. For example, one of our summer courses is taught by Dr. David Skole – a forestry professor at Michigan State University (USA) and collective recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with the rest of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change team. This year, the course included 11 students from five universities.

“The summer program contributes to the achievement of EARTH’s value of sustainable development, increasing intercultural and global competencies for everyone involved,” says Nico Evers, director of RAI. “Additionally, it enables the creation of more social and environmental consciousness in participants, which results in a global impact in other countries and universities – particularly in the USA and Canada.”

How it began

students at tour

Students at tour

In 2008, university officials from California Polytechnic State, Colorado State, Iowa State, Louisiana State, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska expressed their mutual interest in creating a top-notch, multi-institutional, and flexible-structure study abroad program that could adapt to the strengths and aims of the participating universities.

In May 2011, EARTH welcomed its inaugural group of students – marking the opening of the Sustainable Summer Sessions. Since day one, the program has offered participants access to hands-on projects and practice spaces, as well as site visits to plantations, rural communities, hydroelectric plants and much more.

“Our goal is to create opportunities so that students can learn while sharing in our mission, methodology and community,”  Evers explains.

Anyone interested in participating in the Sustainable Summer Session in 2020 should email or click here.

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