Why sustainability is not enough in international education

Sustainability is a hot buzzword in international education right now, especially as we plan for a post-COVID-19 era. As a consequence of the abrupt halt in overseas travel and public mobility due to the pandemic, the earth has benefitted from significantly reduced pollution. Such anthropause has also led wildlife previously displaced by human activity to re-enter habitats now suddenly available.

The hope is that such improvements are not temporary and that humans may lessen their negative impacts on the environment in the long term. The United Nations has marked 2021 as a critical year to “reset our relationship with nature” as experts warn that “we are in a state of planetary emergency”.

Even before COVID-19, there was accumulating interest in international education’s impact on the carbon footprint. And since the pandemic, there have been increasing calls for greater responsibility towards sustainability in international education.

When it comes to overseas travel in particular, that might mean reducing long-haul flights, choosing nearby destinations and harnessing online learning platforms, all as efforts to mitigate harm to the planet. Considering the growing demand for international education, such measures to lessen the negative effects of travel would certainly slow some greenhouse gas emissions and help the environment. Read more

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