Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph Lanning


Travel is a defining feature of education abroad, instrumental in exposing students to experiences and countries beyond their campus community. The cultural exchange implied in travel aspires to benefit both host communities and students’ home institutions. However, education abroad has negative environmental impacts incongruent with many sustainability efforts. The education abroad sector aims to address this reality by advancing the use of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in program design and execution. In this study we conducted semi-structured interviews with representatives of higher education institutions, third-party study abroad providers, and professional associations to assess how stakeholders perceive this incongruency and implement sustainability initiatives in programming. Results suggest a consciousness of this contradiction, yet the sector lacks a mechanism to enforce practices that reduce the field’s negative global impact. Efforts are inconsistently implemented, lacking a co-created policy and metrics to assess the environmental impacts or reciprocal benefits for host communities.

Keywords: sustainability, study abroad, qualitative research, student mobility, international education, education abroad


Environmental Studies | Higher Education | International and Comparative Education