2012 GoAbroad Innovation Awards Finalists: Innovation in Sustainability

GoAbroad Innovation in Sustainability


The GoAbroad Team is pleased to feature the 2012 GoAbroad Innovation Awards finalists in the category of Sustainability. We received many wonderful nominations and the selection committee has chosen five finalists, listed here in alphabetical order. Throughout this week and next, GoAbroad will highlight the finalists in each of the GoAbroad Innovation Award categories!


The Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL)

“CELL’s Programs”

The Center for Ecological Living and Learning (CELL) inspires college students to believe that a sustainable world is possible and that one life (their life) can, indeed, make a big difference in the world. CELL’s programs focus on a theme of “sustainability through community” and they empower students to “be the change they wish to see in the world.” At the completion of a semester program in East Africa, the Middle East, Iceland, or Central America, students return home and take a leadership role in making a difference in their campuses and home communities through the implementation of sustainability action plans that students develop during the semester program.

CELL’s curriculum focuses on a theme of “sustainability through community,” and students learn that in order to understand what sustainability is all about, we need to understand holistically the social, environmental, economic, and health and well being dimensions of what it means to live sustainably. This holistic approach to sustainability permeates everything CELL does and teaches.


Living Routes

“Study Abroad in Sustainable Communities”

Living Routes offers academic experiences of living in community with each other and the planet. Partnering with UMass Amherst and sustainable communities around the world, students help create positive visions and solutions for a transforming world. Host communities strive to live well and lightly together. While not utopias, they present ideal campuses where students create learning communities within living social laboratories. Through coursework and service learning, students learn about appropriate technologies, organic farming, group facilitation, ecological design, mindfulness practices, and much more.

What really sets Living Routes apart from other sustainability programs, however, is a focus on the integration of these systems within human-scale communities. Alumni can never again say, “It can’t be done”. They understand we can and must work together for a sustainable future and now have the knowledge, skills and motivation to do so. Living Routes social and environmental values are not “add-ons”. They are baked into our DNA.



“Cleaner Burning Stove Project”

ProWorld has set out to prove that international education can achieve programmatic and educational goals for its participants and be sustainable at the same time. A great example of this success in sustainability can be seen in the Cleaner Burning Stove Project, run out of ProWorld Peru.

In Peru, roughly eight million people live in poor rural areas where they depend almost exclusively on wood for cooking. These families cannot afford to cook on gas stoves like their urban neighbors. The environmental issue that results is the burning of wood in poorly ventilated kitchens, creating high concentrations of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other pollutants. To date, with the help of community partners, students, volunteers, interns, and various funds,ProWorld Peru has installed more than 6,000 cleaner burning stoves in rural Peruvian communities. The impact of these stoves has been profound – in sustainability and health. As a leader in this space, ProWorld Peru stoves were part of the first UN Gold Standard grade carbon credit stove project in Peru.


The School for Field Studies

“The SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies”

Opened in 1991 by the School for Field Studies, the SFS Center for Sustainable Development Studies has focused on environmental education and research that is beneficial to host communities and ecosystems. The backbone of the curriculum is the Five-Year Research Plan, established in collaboration with local community leaders, government officials, research institutions, and local land owners. In the classroom and field, students and faculty find solutions to questions related to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of tourism, ecosystem function and fragmentation, as well as conflicts and synergies between parks and people.

In 2011, the Center’s farm was awarded The Rainforest Alliance’s “Sustainable Agriculture” certification, based on criteria in the areas of social and environmental management, biodiversity conservation, social and labor conditions, and agricultural practices and infrastructure. The Center’s certification status, the only one awarded to an Education Abroad provider, ensures an education abroad site where biodiversity is protected, staff rights are respected, crops are grown in respect for the environment, and the local community benefits from the Center’s research and outreach programs.


University of Oregon

“University of Oregon Sustainability Programs”

Sustainability is second nature at the University of Oregon. Cross-campus collaboration to build sustainable cities and implementation of green product design are two of the university’s five “Big Ideas” – standards that help shape the UO’s future. Our commitment to sustainability is evident in UO programs around the globe – from Ecuador to Europe, and from Canada to China. The UO curriculum also focuses sharply on sustainability, in the arts and sciences as well as the professional colleges. Likewise, many of UO’s study abroad programs have strong sustainability elements.

Innovation is apparent in the UO’s integration of sustainability research and practice. The Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI) is an interdisciplinary laboratory for nurturing sustainable approaches in urban settings. SCI’s Sustainable City Year Program focuses on a specific project in a specific city, taking an interdisciplinary group of students and faculty through three terms of courses and applied work in the chosen laboratory (Oregon cities that apply to the program).



Congratulations to the finalists! The winner of this category will be announced at the GoAbroad invitation-only reception during the upcoming NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference and will be posted to the GoAbroad blog and the GoAbroad Innovation Awards page. Other category finalists are also being announced this week. Stay tuned for more updates!

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