A Necessary Partnership: Study Abroad and Sustainability in Higher Education


  • Andrea M.W. Dvorak
  • Lars D. Christiansen
  • Nancy L. Fischer
  • Joseph B. Underhill




Sustainable international education, New Zealand, Environment politics, Ecology, Sustainable urban practices, Canada, United States, Cook Islands, Case study, Study abroad, Education abroad


In this article, we will explore two case studies of programs abroad that seriously engaged both the contradictions and opportunities inherent in the idea of sustainable international education. The first examines environmental politics and ecology in New Zealand and the Cook Islands and the second compares sustainable urban practices in Canada and the United States. Based on the lessons learned from these case studies, we will argue that partnership between internationalization and sustainability efforts is necessary to help institutions of higher learning become both global and “green.” To that effect, we discuss specific and concrete ways to “green” study abroad courses throughout this paper, particularly within the two case studies and in our concluding discussion of strategies for international educators, faculty, and higher education administrators.


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Author Biographies

Andrea M.W. Dvorak

Andrea M.W. Dvorak is Coordinator for Faculty-led Study Abroad programs at Augsburg College. She also serves as Vice-Chair of Augsburg College’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, a campus-wide body that assists the college in implementing best practices of environmental stewardship in campus operations and curriculum. 

Lars D. Christiansen

Lars D. Christiansen is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Augsburg College, and is on the faculty of the Metro-Urban Studies Program. His scholarship and teaching focuses on urban sustainability, transportation systems, the philosophy and sociology of education, the relation between sociology and Pragmatism, labor and organizations, and social movements. He is currently completing a project on alternative liberal arts colleges and universities, and is starting a project on the social psychology of transportation. 

Nancy L. Fischer

Nancy L. Fischer is Associate Professor of Sociology at Augsburg College and Director of the Metro-Urban Studies Program. In addition to urban sociology, her scholarship and teaching focus on the sociology of sexuality and sociology of culture. She is currently working on a project called “The Social Life of Secondhand Clothes.” 

Joseph B. Underhill

Joseph B. Underhill is Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Augsburg College. He serves as Director of the International Relations Program and is on the faculty of the Environmental Studies Program. He is also a founding member of the college’s Environmental Stewardship Committee and the Peace & Global Studies Program. He teaches experiential and interdisciplinary courses that regularly take students off campus. 


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How to Cite

Dvorak, A. M., Christiansen, L. D., Fischer, N. L., & Underhill, J. B. (2011). A Necessary Partnership: Study Abroad and Sustainability in Higher Education. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 21(1), 143–166. https://doi.org/10.36366/frontiers.v21i1.307



Research Articles