Examine sustainable economic growth in Portugal and Spain and analyze implications of environmental injustice on health and resource distribution in Southern Europe.

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  • Live in Lisbon, the European Green Capital for 2020.

    The European Green Capital Award is an initiative designed to support sustainable low-carbon economies and address the impact of mass tourism. In Lisbon, you will begin learning about social sustainability and social projects such as “health in all policies” to improve nutrition, green and smart cities to enhance environmental protection and innovative entrepreneurship, and reasons for the success of the social policy decriminalizing drugs adopted in 2001. You will also study impacts of alternative designs in green policies, sustainable environmental tourism and use of natural resources, gender and health equity, and access to a sustainable urban environment.

  • Travel to Porto, Coimbra, and Azores in Portugal and the Extremadura region in Spain.

    During the excursions, you’ll get a comparative understanding of different sustainability approaches and issues in bioeconomics including conservation, sustainable agriculture, resource management and environmental good practice, and innovative uses of renewable energy. Visit the ancient university town of Coimbra and its baroque Biblioteca Joanina.

  • Study Portuguese, the sixth most widely spoken language in the world.

    Begin learning or advance your proficiency in Portuguese. If you already know Spanish or other romance language, you will find Portuguese easy to learn. The field-based classes are carefully planned to provide you with the opportunity to interact with native speakers in a less controlled environment. You’ll also learn about Lusophone cultures and the arts.

  • Discover how Portugal’s approach to sustainability and social equity challenges the core principles of economic orthodoxy.

    Gain an understanding of alternative energy technologies and critically analyze sustainability systems. Learn about the mechanics of a variety of renewable energy technologies, the types and scales of energy utilization technologies, and the relationship between energy production, consumption, and resource management. Meet with academics, policy makers, and activists and learn how they’re mapping alternative designs in green policies and access to a sustainable urban environment.

  • Learn how power, race, class, or location impact environmental in/justice and people's access to resources including green spaces, forests, clean air, water, health, education, or other resources.

    Compare sustainability and bioeconomic development in Southern Europe. Assess impacts of sustainable environmental tourism and use of natural resources, gender, and health equity on Portuguese economy and society.

  • Conduct field research for your Independent Study Project in Portugal and/or southern Spain.

    Plan, develop, and independently undertake a research project in Portugal and/or southern Spain, in consultation with and guidance of the academic director and a local academic and/or sustainability or environmental professional.

  • Learn about Portugal’s national fire plan (Plano Nacional de Defesa da Floresta Contra Incêndios) for forest fire management and wildfire prevention.

    Study impacts of climate change on forest fire occurrence and severity; assess fire risks; and hear from experts how Portugal is pursuing a balanced and sustainable strategy to preempt fire threats, improve firefighters’ performance, and develop intervention areas.

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate | Environment

Climate | Environment

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Key Topics of Study


Key Topics of Study

  • Comparative approaches to sustainability and bioeconomy in southern Europe
  • Blue ocean and Mediterranean bioeconomy
  • Sustainability and renewable energy
  • Environmental governance and sustainability
  • Sustainable tourism and agribusiness
  • “The right to nature” and neoliberalism
  • Environmental conflicts and advocacy in southern Europe
  • Urban regeneration in southern European cities
  • Environmental justice, sustainability, and migration
  • Environmental in/justice and health equity




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Comparative Sustainability and Bioeconomy in Southern Europe - syllabus
(ENVI/EURO3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)

This seminar provides a comparative approach to the analysis of sustainability and bioeconomic development in Southern Europe. The European Commission defines the bioeconomy as “the production of renewable biological resources and the conversion of these resources and waste streams into value added products, such as food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy.” Portugal’s sustainability approach challenges the core principles of economic orthodoxy that is inherently unstable and crisis prone and maps directions for alternative designs in green policies, sustainable environmental tourism and use of natural resources, and access to a sustainable urban environment. Portugal generates almost 100% of the country’s needs in electricity consumption from renewable energy, its approach to sustainable and accessible tourism has been hailed as a model for economic development, and Lisbon has been awarded the title of the European Green Capital for 2020. Spain is the second most visited country in the world today (more than 75 million tourists), is the world’s largest producer of olive oil, and is expected to achieve 100% renewable energy in electricity generation by 2030. Through field visits and the excursion to southern Spain, students compare different sustainability and issues in bioeconomics including conservation projects, sustainable agriculture production, resource management and environmental good practice, and innovative use of renewable energy and impact on sustainable economic growth. Students also analyze and learn from Spain’s approach to mass tourism and urban sustainability.

Environmental Justice, Advocacy, and Urban Regeneration - syllabus
(ENVI/EURO3005 / 3 credits / 45 hours)

In this seminar, environmental justice is used in a broad sense to refer to the distribution and access to green spaces and green infrastructure and the social relations of production and power that shape equitable access and distribution. Variables such as race, class, or territorial location impact environmental in/justice and people’s access to resources, including green spaces, forests, clean air, water, health, or education. While the 1976 Portuguese Constitution recognized the “right to a healthy and ecologically balanced living environment” and the “duty to defend it,” it is only after the Framework Act on the Environment was passed in 1987 that environmental public policy became an important item on the agenda of policy makers. Students analyze the politics underlying inequitable environmental policies and the resistance movements built to fight such injustices in the areas of waste management, industry, energy, megaprojects, and territorial management. The focus is on environmental injustices in the areas of distribution of green spaces in urban environments and ensuing socioeconomic and health impacts. Students learn also about major cases of environmental conflicts in Portugal and in southern Spain during educational excursions. The seminar draws on theoretical and empirical frameworks from a plurality of disciplines including environmental studies, environmental science, urban planning, public health, cultural geography, and sociology to interrogate environmental policies and practices and examine their impacts on environmental degradation and the well-being of communities in low-income neighborhoods.

Environmental Research Methods and Ethics - syllabus
(ENVI3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)

The Environmental Research Methods and Ethics (ERME) seminar introduces students to the conceptual and practical tools for gathering primary data and the knowledge and skills that are essential to forming constructive relationships with organizations and/or individuals, which are necessary for completing an academic project in the cultural context of Portugal. The main emphasis is on the development of empirical tools and ethics of interactive research skills involving the collection of primary data. The seminar includes modules on sustainability research methods and qualitative and quantitative research methods and ethics in environmental studies. The seminar uses lectures, readings, and field assignments to prepare students to undertake field study in the cultural context of Portugal in strict observance of research procedures involving human subjects and the regulatory ethical norms defined by the Local Review Board (LRB) and SIT’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The overall aim is to help students hone their experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an Independent Study Project (ISP), which is largely based on data gathered from primary sources.

Independent Study Project - syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)

The Independent Study Project (ISP) is a self-designed research project offering students the opportunity to undertake a personally significant and independent investigation that highlights the regional and cultural reality that can only be encountered during a study abroad experience. The ISP is the academic component in which the student most directly applies the concepts, skills, tools, and techniques of experience-based learning articulated through the Environmental Research Methods and Ethics course and the thematic courses, while enabling students to further integrate their language skills and the contacts they have developed in the homestay and in the broader community. Each student will plan, develop, and independently undertake a research project, with the advice and guidance of the academic director and an ISP advisor — a local academic and/or sustainability or environmental professional. The topic of study may be anything of interest to the student, within the scope of the program and the immediate region, and is usually developed out of lectures, discussions, field visits, and educational excursions. The final project should provide material evidence of student capability in utilizing appropriate methodologies and in synthesizing experiences in the host culture. Students are expected to complete 120 hours of field-based (non-archival, non-library) research on their topic, submit a substantial written paper, and deliver an accompanying oral presentation. It is not uncommon for ISPs to strongly contribute to the student’s choice of subject for graduate studies or professional career.

Portuguese Introductory I - syllabus
(POR1003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Portuguese Introductory II - syllabus
(POR1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Portuguese Intermediate - syllabus
(POR2003 / 3 credits / 45 hours)

Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing skills in Portuguese through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, students are placed in intensive beginning or intermediate classes, with further language practice in homestays, lectures, and field visits.




Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

The Azores

The Azores constitute one of the most sustainable regions in the Atlantic. These islands are known for agriculture and tourism. In São Miguel, the largest Azorean island, and Terceira, you will see smart approaches to sustainable tourism and climate change. The excursion is organized to reflect the values and principles of the program including low-emission transportation, careful catering choices, a circular economy for food, paperless management, and other responsible practices.

The Extremadura Region

In the Extremadura region of southern Spain, you will examine alternative energy technologies and sustainability systems. Learn how Spain uses renewable energy to drive economic growth and create jobs in a region with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. You will have the opportunity to walk on a 1st century Roman bridge and visit the Arabic fortress Alcazaba. In Cáceres, you will hear lectures at the University of Extremadura and visit the oldest parts of this ancient city which have been used as set locations for many films and TV series including “Game of Thrones.” You will also experience one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Spain.

Porto and Coimbra

In Coimbra, you will visit the ancient university town and its baroque Biblioteca Joanina and attend student performances of classical songs in cafés. In Porto, you will see the Casa da Música concert hall and visit the picturesque Cais da Ribeira and its iconic Luís I Bridge.




The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, predating other modern European capitals including London, Paris, and Rome by centuries. Lisbon is also a diverse and multicultural city. In 2017, it hosted the Intercultural Cities Milestone Event. During the semester you will live with a homestay family in Lisbon for 12 weeks. Families are usually middle-class and reflect the cultural diversity of Portugal, which includes many people from Brazil, Cape Verde, Ukraine, Angola, China, and Guinea Bissau. Some host families live within walking distance from the program center and others are 15 to 30 minutes by bus or tram. Students who need to take transportation between the center and their homestay will get a stipend to cover their travel.

Other accommodations during the program include hostels and modest hotels.

Independent Study Project


Independent Study Project

You will spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research on a topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Portugal and/or southern Spain in an approved location appropriate to the project.

You will work with a faculty member or professional with expertise in your area of interest. These experts include academics, policy advisors, sustainable development practitioners, and environmental activists. Senior staff or governmental agency advisors may work with you on design, implementation, and evaluation of your project.

Sample topics:

  • National energy policy and EU energy framework
  • Hydropower and wind energy
  • Fundamentals of solar utilization
  • Integration of renewable energy technology into existing infrastructure
  • Smart technologies for power generation and distribution
  • Efficient energy generation and conversion
  • Operating and enhancing sustainable energy systems
  • Green combustion and biofuels in a local context
  • Renewable energy investments and markets
  • Impacts of environmental in/justice on neighborhood communities
  • Bioeconomy and regeneration in Lisbon

Career Paths


Career Paths

Students on this program may consider career paths in various sectors including with:

  • Public policy
  • Advocacy
  • Public relations
  • Sustainable energy
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Environment agencies
  • International development
  • Government and administrative institutions




This information is provided to assist you in identifying possible accessibility barriers and preparing for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad. You should be aware that while in-country conditions and resources vary by site, every effort is made to work collaboratively with qualified individuals to facilitate disability-related accommodation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact SIT’s Disability Services at disabilityservices@sit.edu for additional information related to access abroad and to discuss possible accommodations.


During the coursework phase of the program, you will generally be in class three to four days per week for five to six hours per day. Some field trips require you to be in the field for eight to nine hours per day for up to six days at a time. You will have 10-minute breaks between lectures and one hour for lunch. Learning is typically assessed through take-home assignments, in-class assignments, written assignments/exams, oral presentations/exams, individual assignments, group assignments, in-class quizzes/exams, and meeting facilitation. Course readings and in-class materials are typically available in a digital format.

If you have questions about alternate format materials, testing accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.


The program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing you in your homestay. Homestay placements are made based, first, on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Homestays offer regular access to Wi-Fi, cellular service, electricity to charge devices, and a refrigerator for storing medication.

If you have questions about homestay accessibility, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.


You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, adapters, recording devices, and assistive technology. The program will assist you with printing, copying, and scanning when necessary. You are reminded to bring charging adapters. It is recommended that you fully insure your electronic property against loss or theft. Mobile broadband internet sticks are available during travel.

If you have questions about assistive technology, note-taking accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Requesting Disability-Related Accommodations

To request disability-related accommodations once admitted, you should contact the Office of Disability Services. For more information about the accommodation process, documentation guidelines and a link to the accommodation request form, please visit the Office of Disability Services website.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Services at disabilityservices@sit.edu or 802 258-3390 as early as possible for information and support.

Additional Support Resources

MIUSA (Mobility International USA) is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. It offers numerous resources for persons with disabilities who wish to study abroad and/or engage in international development opportunities.

Abroad with Disabilities (AWD) is a Michigan nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting the belief that persons with disabilities can and should go abroad. AWD works diligently to empower clients to pursue study, work, volunteer, and/or internship opportunities outside of the United States by creating dialogue, sharing resources, and spreading awareness.

Cost and Scholarships


Cost and Scholarships

SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students. 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: Not yet available.

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Emerging sustainability models
    • Conceptualizing bioeconomy: green, circular, bioeconomy
    • Smart cities and governance in southern Europe
    • Bioeconomy in Europe: the case of Portugal
    • Green combustion and biofuels in a local context
    • Fundamentals of solar utilization
    • Austerity measures and environmental conflicts
    • Environmental advocacy and conflict resolution
    • Megaprojects and environmental conflicts
    • Urban regeneration policy in southern Europe
    • Degraded neighborhoods and urban regeneration
    • Green spaces and urban design
  • Comparative Sustainability in Bioeconomy in Southern Europe seminar
  • Environmental Justice, Advocacy, and Urban Regeneration seminar
  • Environmental Research Methods and Ethics and Human Subjects Review
  • Intensive language instruction in Portuguese
  • Independent Study Project (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • All educational excursions, including all related travel costs
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period
  • Transportation

Room & Board: Not yet available.

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, in the program base (Lisbon), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project, and during the final evaluation period.
  • The homestay (12 weeks with a Portuguese or international family in Lisbon)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

Airfare to Program Site

Airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $ 70

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $ 50

International Phone: Each student must bring a smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card with them to their program, or they must purchase a smart phone locally.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

In order to make study abroad more accessible, SIT's partner colleges and universities may charge home school tuition fees for their students participating on an SIT Study Abroad program. If your institution has an agreement with SIT and charges fees different from those assessed by SIT, please contact your study abroad advisor for more details. The SIT published price is the cost to direct enroll in the SIT program. Tuition fees may vary for students based on your home college's or university's billing policies with SIT.

Speak With An Admissions Counselor

Speak With An Admissions Counselor