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.
This seventh report proposes ten innovations, many of which are currently implemented but have not yet had a profound influence on education. To produce the report, a group of academics from The Open University collaborated with researchers from Norway’s Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology.
From a long list of new educational terms, theories and practices, this short list of ten innovations has the potential to bring about major changes in educational practice.
As online education continues to grow, many schools are making online education a major part of their curriculum. To help students understand this trend, the guide also includes a detailed breakdown of online learning methods and technologies, as well as information on how to identify quality online schools or programs.
The guide looks at Khan Academy, Coursera and MIT OpenCourseware specifically and includes advice and keys to success from a panel of online learning experts.