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Courses, field studies, and experiences focused on sustainability

Environmental conservation, renewable resources, and climate change are important topics for much of the world right now. Environmentally-conscious students choose USAC because many of our programs are held in some of the most sustainable countries in the world. There are several academic options to take coursework in sustainability and the environment. Many programs also include field trips and studies for hands-on experience with local sustainability efforts.

I took tropical conservation biology and was not disappointed one bit. We had a lot of time getting to explore ecosystems in Costa Rica outside of the classroom, especially through the optional field study. Not only did I learn more about Costa Rican ecosystems and culture, but I also learned a lot more about myself and what I can accomplish in the world. Pura Vida! — Julia G. USAC San Ramón

The study abroad experience is an opportunity to see how large- and small-scale environmental issues have a global impact.

Highlights from recent sustainability-related study abroad experiences

Person taking measurements of coral on an underwater dive in Heredia, Costa Rica.

Ecological status of Costa Rica

There’s incredible value to research in the field — especially when it comes to environmental studies in the verdant regions of South America. Students in the USAC Heredia program ventured on field studies for their biology and ecology course. Participating students earn one extra credit by submitting their academic report based on their field research.

Students on a boating excursion in Lüneburg, Germany.

Erosion of German heath

On a boating excursion to the Lüneburger Heide, or heath, students explored the local waterways and wetlands. USAC Lüneburg students were able to witness the effects of glaciation from the last Ice Age, as well as the impact of ongoing deforestation practices by local salt-processing industries. Although vegetation such as heather thrive in the poor soil, it does lead to a bigger discussion about the human impact on the environmental conditions.

Students standing next to sheep while participating in the Global Food Challenge Course in Prague, Czech Republic.

Global Food Challenge in Prague

USAC Prague students participating in the Global Food Challenge course learned how all of Czechia maintains one of the greenest capital cities in the world. Sorting through waste products to find recycleable materials and composting organic materials for local food production and farming efforts are woven into their study abroad program.

Students walking on a bamboo bridge in Chengdu, China.

Chinese agriculture

While China’s Guizhou Province is a relatively poor and economically undeveloped region in the nation, it’s inhabitant’s take advantage of the right natural resources with sustainable practices. USAC Chengdu and USAC Shanghai students explored the local economy, society and culture on a field study, where they learn about their forestry practices and tobacco industry — the third largest tobacco producer in China.

Local women making a silk shirt in Shanghai, China.

Silkworm production in Suzhou

Silkworms are one of most fascinating, naturally-occurring manufacturing organisms. USAC Shanghai students visited a silk factory in Suzhou, watching silkworm experts handing the workhorses from the cocoon stage through the breeding and selection process. Silk has a deep history in Asia, and students will walk away with a profound appreciation for the natural process of creating scarves, garments, quilts and other products from silk.

Explore your options

Use the program search tool to find a complete list of places you can study sustainability and environmental studies through USAC. There is also the Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialty Program Advising Guide, and Partnership Program Advising Guide.

You can also visit the sustainability page of the USAC blog for further details about student experiences.