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The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes an interesting article on the impact of academic air travel on global warming.
Millions of people around the world, many of them young people, have mobilized in recent weeks to raise awareness about climate change.
At the same time, university institutions receive and send millions of international students to study abroad.
A clear contradiction emerges
Experiencing other countries and cultures is fundamental to international education, but air transport is one of the main factors contributing to global warming.
“It’s the huge elephant in the room,” says Ailsa Lamont, from Australia’s international education sector, who founded the Climate Action Network for International Education, or CANIE (http://www.can-ie.org/), a group that seeks to raise awareness of the environmental impact of international education – and to find solutions to mitigate it.
Lamont proposes some actions to make international educators more environmentally friendly:
- Be a smarter traveler. Lamont believes in the value of cultural exchange, so it does not believe that students and educators should stop traveling. But they can be more intentional, by grouping visits or meeting with partners at conferences.
- Compensation: New Zealand’s Massey University buys carbon credits to offset staff travel emissions, while overseas study provider API matches the students’ $15 offset contribution. Middlebury offers $500 scholarships to students traveling abroad for sustainability or research projects. The University of Gothenburg, Sweden, charges a fee for staff members’ air travel and uses the funds to support projects that reduce the institution’s environmental impact.
- Use technology. Technology is not a substitute, but it helps to hold meetings at a distance by limiting travel. Online courses also help link students with classrooms abroad.
- Increase visibility. Universities can open a broad debate on sustainability. CANIE (http://www.can-ie.org/) hopes to put climate change on the agenda of international education conferences through roundtables, poster fairs and meetings.
Read the article at http://bit.ly/2oK7ugE (requires free registration).
The Chronicle of Higher Education is a newspaper and website that features news, information and papers for faculty and student affairs professionals at colleges and universities.