Latitudes: The Global Education Climate Crisis

Deal aims to make international education more sustainable

An ambitious new climate accord aims to commit colleges and higher education groups to reduce carbon emissions from the international education sector to net zero by the end of the decade.

The VSanieOK – Canie stands for Climate Action Network for International Educators, a global non-profit organization – asks signatories to agree to a set of overarching principles for sustainability and climate action and commit to half a dozen actions of their choice to fight the climate crisis.

The agreement would align international education with the United Nations 2030 climate goals, better known as the Paris Agreement.

International education is “deeply implicated” by the global climate crisis, said Canie founding board member Adrienne Fusek, who recently left her position as director of international programs and partnerships at the State University. from San Diego to work full-time on the issue.

Indeed, the core mission of the domain, namely global mobility and trade, would seem to conflict with growing concerns about climate change. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, a professor at the University of Bath, in Great Britain, valued that global student mobility generates carbon emissions of 14 megatons per year, equivalent to the emissions of a country like Croatia or Jamaica.

But Robin Shields, the Bath teacher, said calls to tackle climate change do not clash with international education. The movement of faculty and students can continue, he said, but colleges must do so in a smart and sustainable way. The Canie Agreement “says we take this seriously and want to do better, year after year.”

Fusek said the non-binding agreement is meant to be “reachable and achievable”. Signatories pledge to take action to promote sustainability within their own organizations, work within international education to reduce emissions, and support student learning and global understanding of climate issues.

They also agree to take five concrete steps, such as limiting in-person meetings and air travel, measuring and setting emission reduction targets within their institution or office, and adding climate literacy modules to education curricula. study abroad. Colleges and other groups could also expand international education opportunities that involve less travel, including virtual exchanges, better integration of global learning into the curriculum, and offering all or part of a program leading to a degree to international students in their home country.

The agreement is meant to be signed on behalf of institutions or organizations, by college leaders, heads of campus international divisions, overseas education and student recruitment providers, member associations international education and others. Signatories include the Universities of Auckland and Canterbury, New Zealand, and the European Association for International Education.

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