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Sustainability Abroad

Study abroad raises many sustainability considerations. Consider how you can continue your commitment to sustainability while abroad!


  • On the CIA World Factbook website, look for your host country’s page and research the “Geography” section, where you can find information on the country’s environmental issues.
  • Learn about sustainability around the world on the United Nations Sustainability Portal.

FOOD And water considerations

  • By eating local food and dining at local restaurants you can support your host community’s economy while also learning about the culture through food.
  • Consider visiting local farmer’s markets. It can be a great way to support local farmers, try new foods, and, if your host country speaks a language other than English, a great way to practice your language skills.
  • Slow Food International: Slow Food is a global movement committed to sustaining local food cultures and traditions.
  • Volunteer on an organic farm through World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). WWOOFing is a great way to learn about your host country’s foodways while also building relationships with the local community.
  • Water shortages and access to safe, clean drinking water are a concern in many countries. Learn about your own water usage and strategies to use water sparingly through the Water Footprint Calculator.
  • Consider using a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing bottled water. Always check the water safety of your host country before drinking tap water.


  • Airplanes produce massive amounts of ozone-depleting carbon dioxide. Consider offsetting the carbon emissions produced through air travel: TerraPass, CarbonFund, Native Energy.
  • Airport Transportation Options: Consider traveling to the airport using public transportation or shuttle services instead of driving alone.
  • While abroad, consider alternative transportation options, such as walking, biking and public transportation. Always remember to research safety concerns related to these different modes of travel in your host country.
  • Consider renting a bike to run errands or explore. Over 700 cities around the world now offer bike sharing programs. Use this bike sharing map to discover opportunities near you.



  • China: The Energy Technology & Policy: Wanxiang Fellows program in Hangzhou and Beijing sends Northwestern students to China to work on one of the world’s most important challenges, the development of sustainable green energy technologies. 
  • India: The Contemporary India: Development, Economy, Society program in Pune introduces students to some of the most dynamic, exciting areas of Indian society, politics, economics, and culture today, such as development economics, environmental issues, social justice and public health.


Middle East 


  • All of the institutions in the Oceania region have options for students interested in environmental policy and development and earth science.
  • New Zealand: The University of Otago in Dunedin and Victoria University of Wellington are two of the strongest options for students interested in environmental policy and development as well as earth sciences.

South America

  • Costa Rica: The Duke/OTS Tropical Biology on a Changing Planet in Costa Rica 
  • Ecuador: The SIT Comparative Ecology and Conservation program in Quito allows students to complete an independent study project and learn about the diverse ecological zones of Ecuador, major plant and animal adaptations in each zone, appropriate uses for natural resources, current environmental issues and management practices, as well as Ecuadorian life and culture.

The Global Engagement Studies Institute offers many programs focused on sustainability.


Campus Resources

SustainNU: Northwestern's Office of Sustainability provides resources for minimizing your ecological footprint, including strategies for transportation, recycling, and energy conservation.

International Resources 350 is a global grassroots environmental movement active in over 180 countries. Learn how to get involved in your host country.

Transitions Abroad Responsible Travel Handbook: Tips to help you become a more conscious and conscientious traveler.