Travel across four continents to witness the causes and social impacts of climate change and examine possibilities for local and global environmental justice.
Engage with researchers, activists, NGOs, entrepreneurs, farmers, and high-level policymakers to understand the complexities of climate change in some of the world’s most productive and vulnerable landscapes.
Debate the appropriate roles of the state, the private sector, grassroots social movements, professional civil society, and individuals in addressing this multifaceted global crisis.
Learn about the precarious nexus of California’s food, water, and energy systems and their relevance to climate justice.
Examine the prospects for sustainable development in the context of climate change in Vietnam’s diverse socio-ecological systems.
Investigate water conflicts, agricultural development policies, and renewable energy in Morocco.
Discover the social and environmental complexities of Bolivia, a country that recognizes the “rights of Mother Earth” but remains dependent on natural resource extraction.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Climate | Environment
None, although previous coursework in political science, economics, and/or environmental science is recommended.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- How climate change is impacting regions differently and how communities are adapting to these changes
- How national governments and the global community is responding the climate crisis
- The appropriate roles of the state, business, non-profits, social movements, and individuals in addressing the challenges of climate change
- Environmental justice perspectives and how they can inform an approach to climate change rooted in social justice
- The technologies, modes of governance, types of social organization, and traditional forms of local knowledge that can help sustainably meet humanity’s need for food, water, and energy
- The economic interests and institutional arrangements that prevent us from more effectively addressing the climate crisis
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- The Science and Policy of Climate Change – syllabus
- (ENVI3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course unpacks the basic science of the climate system by examining the state-of-the-art science collated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and through regular engagement with scientists and researchers. The course also aims to critically engage with the science/policy interface. Students examine local, regional, and national mitigation and adaptation strategies as a matter of social policy, and learn about environmental governance mechanisms at local and regional levels, national climate policy frameworks, and global climate change negotiations. They also learn to analyze the multiple discourses on climate change that circulate in national and global policy circuits.
- Political Economy and Environmental History: 1492 to the Present – syllabus
- (ECON3010 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course analyzes the development and history of modern capitalism on a global scale. Topics of consideration within this context include state formation, war, imperialism, technology, energy, environmental change, economic crisis, and “long waves of accumulation.” There is a particular focus on post–World War II developments, including the rise of Keynesianism globally; the role of socialist economies; the political economy of the Cold War; Third World development; the global crisis of profitability in the 1970s, the resultant economic restructuring, and the turn toward neoliberalism; the acceleration of neoliberalism and its deepening crisis; and the possibility of alternative economic models.
- Comparative Issues in Food, Water, and Energy – syllabus
- (SDIS3070 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course looks at land, agriculture, water, and energy systems, and the attendant resources upon which these sectors depend. Students visit farms, fishing communities, powerplants, water management sites, and more while examining the political ecology of natural resource sectors using case studies and place-based analysis. Excursions and fieldwork will complement detailed studies of these resource sectors to experience, observe, and understand more concretely the multi-scalar impacts of regional and global forces on the landscapes, communities and economies of California, Vietnam, Morocco and Bolivia.
- Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 4 credits / 60 hours)
- This course enables students to understand and benefit from field-based learning processes. It provides students with skills related to gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information from a range of sources, maximizing the knowledge provided by local contexts. The course intends to assist students in assessing their own cultural assumptions and in understanding people from different cultures. Students are familiarized with the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. The seminar provides a framework for a qualitative research project involving data collection and comparative analysis to be undertaken in each of the countries visited.
Why choose IHP for your SIT study abroad program?
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
United States: San Francisco
Begin you journey with an introduction to the scientific basis of anthropogenic climate change, delving into the history of global governance in climate change negotiations and learn current US and California climate policy. Then, begin to explore climate change through the framework of environmental justice, understanding race, class, and gender as key social determinants of vulnerability to climate impacts. In Oakland you’ll learn about urban food justice efforts, and explore the fossil fuel industry and its impacts on low-income urban communities in Richmond. Near Sacramento, you will learn about the importance of indigeneity and be introduced to the concept of decolonization and how it relates to the prospects for just and sustainable futures. You will also learn more about California’s climate initiatives and policy outcomes, and will have a chance to visit a massive windfarm near the San Joaquin / Sacramento River Delta. Throughout, you will also meet activists, social entrepreneurs, and civil society professionals involved in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi
You will then travel to Vietnam, a country highly vulnerable to climate change. You will spend your first week in Hanoi, the capital city of this single-party, nominally socialist country. Here, you will learn about Vietnam’s environmental and climate change policies, including its position on renewable energy. You will meet with NGOs, academics, and government officials to get both “official” and alternative perspectives on how Vietnam is planning to cope with climate change.
After that, you will head to Danang, in Vietnam’s Central Coast, where you will live with a local family. In this region you will have a chance to learn about the interrelated socio-ecological systems of food, water, and energy of this agricultural region. This includes understanding the consequences of highland dams for downstream communities and ecosystems; you will also visit with farmers who are part of a budding organic farming movement in the region, and learn about rural-urban dynamics and the ability of coastal cities to adapt to the effects of climate change.
You will also spend time in Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you will learn about the pressures of tourism and development in a biologically sensitive area, and travel to the Cham Islands to learn about their strategies for sustainable development and climate adaptation. Finally, you will travel south to the Mekong Delta in An Giang, near the border with Cambodia, to learn about climate change in one of the most complex, productive, and vulnerable regions in the world. In Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, you will reflect on your time in Vietnam and prepare for the journey to Morocco.
Morocco: Rabat, Casablanca, the Atlas Mountains
Next, you will travel to Morocco, which, like Vietnam, is on the front lines of climate change. You will begin in the port city of Rabat, Morocco’s capital and political and diplomatic center, where you will examine the complex social and political issues in natural resource management that Morocco faces as it deals with development and climate change. Morocco has very little oil or gas and has been making massive investments in renewable energy, in particular, wind and solar power. In Ouarzazate, you’ll visit one of the largest solar power plants in the world. You will also travel to the Atlas Mountains, where you will visit a community working to preserve its local water source, and meet with farmers striving to modernize their small-scale agricultural practices. Other lectures and site visits take place in Marrakech, with final departure from Casablanca.
Bolivia: Cochabamba, La Paz, Lake Titicaca
You will conclude the program in Bolivia, a country that has undergone massive political change over the past two decades. In 2010, Bolivia passed a law that recognizes the “rights of Mother Earth,” yet it remains economically dependent on large-scale mining, the extraction and export of natural gas, and other high-impact industrial activities to finance its progressive social agenda. You will be based in Cochabamba, famous for its “Water Wars,” successful protests nearly twenty years ago against the privatization of municipal water, and also the location of the 2010 World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Around Cochabamba you will visit communal efforts in climate adaptation through agroecology and communal water management. You will also go on excursions to La Paz, Bolivia’s seat of government, the ruins of Tiwanacu, and the islands of Lake Titicaca, where you will learn about Andean Cosmovision and reflect on the possibilities that indigenous perspectives offer for a just and sustainable future. You will reflect on your learning and prepare for “re-entry” during an end-of-semester retreat in the tropical lowland.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
The faculty/staff team shown on this page is a sample of the individuals who may lead your specific program. Faculty and coordinators are subject to change to accommodate each program’s unique schedule and locations.
Nicolas Stahelin, EdD, Program Director
As a political ecologist, educator and researcher, Nicolas Stahelin has worked in experiential learning, international and cross-cultural exchange, school-community partnerships, and higher education for nearly 20 years. He has a BA in environmental studies from Oberlin College, an MA in international educational development from Columbia University, and an EdD in international and comparative education focusing on sustainability, also from Columbia. His teaching and research engage with climate change and sustainability in global and comparative perspectives at the intersection of political ecology, environmental justice, critical policy studies, and education. Nicolas is also a faculty member of SIT Graduate Institute’s MA program in Climate Change and Global Sustainability. Active on several research fronts, Nicolas has published in a number of academic journals, including the Journal of Environmental Education and Environmental Education Research. Current projects include investigations into global climate change education policy programs driven by UN organizations, and reconceptualizing how the lens of climate justice should inform critical education for sustainability curricula and program design in post-secondary international education. Nicolas is an alum (fall 2000) and former program assistant (spring 2001, 2003–2004) of an SIT Study Abroad program in Brazil. Originally of Swiss- Brazilian nationality, Nicolas lived for 20 years in Brazil and Venezuela and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
Anna Gail Caunca, MA, Program Manager
Anna Gail holds a BS in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management from SIT Graduate Institute. She also received her licensure in secondary education (social studies), incorporating social justice in the classroom. Anna Gail has over ten years of experience working with youth and young adults as a volunteer manager, educator, residential life director, and traveling group facilitator. Building on her graduate studies in social justice and international education, Anna Gail worked with World Learning’s Youth Leadership and Peacebuilding Programs, facilitating workshops on current issues and youth activism with the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont and traveling with and supporting students through the LondonX and Iraqi Youth Leadership Program for two years. In 2013, she was the Trustees’ Fellow for the inaugural year of the IHP: Human Rights program. From 2010 to 2015, she lived in Wellington, New Zealand, where she worked in residential life at Victoria University of Wellington, developed pre-departure orientation and training for New Zealand educators attending the Yad Vashem Teaching Seminar in Israel, and supported human rights education with the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. She is also active in Parenting for Social Justice Chats and Mother Up! Parents Exchange for Change.
Sarah White, PhD Candidate, Launch Coordinator
Sarah holds a BA in global studies from Global College, an MRes in social anthropology from St. Andrews, and an MA in intercultural service, leadership, and management from SIT Graduate Institute. She is currently a PhD candidate at CIIS studying liberatory education, exilic practice, and the political imaginary. A San Francisco native, Sarah grew up dancing with the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, which combats the alienation of capitalist structures through dance, theater, and martial arts. She has performed in all strata of venues, from Radio City Music Hall to the Thar Desert, and has facilitated numerous anti-oppression experiential education programs on power and privilege. She has worked across 46 countries, including as Trustees’ Fellow for IHP, lead facilitator for the State Department’s Youth Exchange Programs, international educator for Thinking Beyond Borders, and traveling faculty for Naropa University. She directed an all-girls traveling high school, cultivating critical consciousness in teens so they develop a habit of questioning what it means to be human while practicing radical empathy.
Phuong Hoang, MA, Country Coordinator, Vietnam
Phuong earned a master’s degree in sustainable development from SIT Graduate Institute in 2010 and a bachelor of science in international relations from Edgewood College, Madison, Wisconsin, in 2007. After ten years studying and living in the US, Phuong moved back to Vietnam in late 2010. From 2011 to 2013, she worked for UN-REDD Programme Vietnam and UNDP Vietnam, focusing on reducing the impact of climate change in the forestry sector. From 2014 to 2016, she was the representative of Freeland Foundation in Vietnam, an international NGO combating crimes against nature and humanity. Currently, Phuong is an independent consultant in the field of education, environmental issues, and communication campaigns in Vietnam.
Jawad Moustakbal, Country Coordinator, Morocco
Jawad graduated in 2000 with a degree in civil engineering from the EHTP engineering school in Casablanca. He worked as project manager in several companies including OCP, the Moroccan phosphates state company, and as a temporary professor in Bouchaib Doukali University. He is currently working as consultant in construction management services. Jawad is also an active member of ATTAC/CADTM Morocco and ACME: Moroccan association for an international water agreement.
Duygu Avci, PhD Candidate, Traveling Faculty
Duygu is a trained economist and sociologist who works on environment and development relations in different contexts of the Global South. She completed her undergraduate studies in economics and sociology at the Middle East Technical University and holds an MA in economics from Bogazici University. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Development Studies Program at Erasmus University Rotterdam’s International Institute of Social Studies. In her PhD research, she explores transformative politics in environmental struggles based on a comparative analysis of two local mining conflicts in Ecuador and Turkey. More broadly, she is engaged with diverse topics in the study of society-environment interactions, including socio-environmental struggles, environmental governance, environmental justice, and sustainable development. Her work is situated at the intersection of the fields of development studies, political ecology and ecological economics. She has researched and taught in different countries, including Turkey, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Netherlands, which helped her integrate a comparative perspective to her work.
Meraz Mostafa, Trustees’ Fellow
Meraz holds a BA in geography with a minor in film and television studies from the University of Vermont and is currently completing a master’s degree in the anthropology of development from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. From 2015 to 2018, he worked as researcher at a climate change research institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh, conducting both desk and field research, and has previously worked on several research projects involving migrants and refugees. He is interested in analyzing climate change through political, ecological, and anthropological lenses and is passionate about facilitating collective learning spaces.
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.
You will live with a host family for between two and four weeks at each program site, with the exception of the first location. Homestays are the primary form of accommodation on the program; other accommodations can include guest houses, hostels, dormitories, and/or small hotels.
Family structures vary in every place. For example, the host family may include a single mother of two small children or a large extended family with many people coming and going all the time. Please bear in mind that the idea of what constitutes a “home” (i.e., the physical nature of the house) may be different from what you expect. You will need to be prepared to adapt to a new life with a new diet, a new schedule, new people, and possibly new priorities and expectations.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Research assistant for the United Nations, conducting work in Ecuador
- Truman Scholarship recipient, continuing research at the postgraduate level
- Fulbright recipients, returning to work in the countries the program visits
- Intern at EcoPeace Middle East, Amman, Jordan
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.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Content and logistics for field programs in San Francisco, Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Locally taught classes
- Comparative Issues in Food, Water, and Energy
- The Science and Policy of Climate Change
- Classes taught by traveling faculty
- Political Economy and Environmental History
- Fieldwork Ethics and Comparative Research Methods
- Locally taught classes
- Guest lectures and panel discussions
- Site visit hosts and facilitators
- Transportation to classroom spaces and daily program activities
- All educational excursions to locations such as the Atlas Mountains, including all related travel costs
- Traveler’s health insurance after leaving the United States
- Instructional materials
- Other direct program costs
Note: Break expenses are not covered by program fees; students are responsible for these.
The travel fee covers the following:
- All group flights once you leave the US.
- A flight back to a city in the US at the conclusion of the program or a travel allowance for other locations, arranged by our travel agent.
- Group travel in each country program for program activities (buses, taxis, boats, trains, metro, etc.).
Note: Travel to the program launch city in the US is not covered, students are responsible for this cost.
Room & Board: $4,703
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in all four countries, urban and rural stays, all excursions, and the final retreat. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- All homestays in Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia
- 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:
Domestic Airfare to Program Launch Site
Domestic 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: $275
Books & Supplies: $150
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.
Break: $600 - $1,000
Please note: This is an estimated range based on student surveys from past semesters. Students' individual needs for their breaks will vary. For the entirety of the break period, students will be responsible for all of their expenses, including travel and room and board.
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.
Contact A Former Student
Speak With An Admissions Counselor
These letters home are from previous terms. Site locations may vary from term to term.