Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Costa Rica recently was honored by GoAbroad.com with the 2013 Innovation in Sustainability Award at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators annual conference in St. Louis.
The award recognizes institutions, organizations and individuals who are creating initiatives to move the field of international education forward and to commend leaders in the community for their efforts to go beyond the conventional.
NAFSA is an association of individuals worldwide advancing international education and exchange and global workforce development.
“This is a great honor and was made possible by a dedicated team of people at the University of Georgia’s main campus in Athens and at the campus in Costa Rica,” said Quint Newcomer, director of the UGA Costa Rica program. “Our goal from day one was to make the Costa Rica campus a model of sustainability and environmental stewardship, and the Innovation in Sustainability Award validates that our efforts are bearing fruit.
“With dedicated faculty, students and staff in Costa Rica and unwavering support from the university, our ability to exceed sustainability benchmarks is superb. I believe this award represents the culmination of a collaborative effort that makes UGA Costa Rica one of the world’s best travel-study destinations.”
GoAbroad.com recognized UGA Costa Rica for studying, understanding and embodying the interconnectedness of human society within the natural environment. The 155-acre campus in Monteverde is independently certified as a sustainable operation achieving a score of 85 percent or higher in all four areas evaluated, including 100 percent in the assessment of employee relations and community engagement.
Examples of UGA Costa Rica’s sustainability practices include:
• An integrated sustainable farm serves as a living classroom, producing 15 percent of food served on campus. Additionally, all food products come from within 200 miles of campus, with 25-30 percent coming directly from small farmers in the immediate community.
• Local farmers offer sustainable agriculture tours and share traditional knowledge with students. UGA Costa Rica landscape architecture students in service-learning courses provide trail designs, maps, logos and websites to enhance the quality of tours. These tours annually inject $15,000 into the local economy.
• Homestays, dancing and cooking lessons for students that support the local economy and stimulate cross-cultural understanding.
• UGA Costa Rica operates a carbon-offset program in which native trees, planted and monitored by students, capture carbon while simultaneously restoring habitat for migratory birds and stabilizing soils on degraded hillsides. More than 28,000 trees had been planted as of December 2012, with 10,000 trees a year planned for 2013-2015.
• Model anaerobic digestion wastewater treatment systems for human and animal waste generate biogas used for cooking meals in the campus’s dining hall, turning waste into food.
• Sustainability in Action, a semester education abroad program, offers interdisciplinary field experiences and is closely aligned with the UGA Office of Sustainability’s forthcoming Sustainability Certificate program. Courses include sociology, ethics, conservation ecology, organic agriculture and climate change.
For more information on UGA Costa Rica, see http://www.externalaffairs.uga.edu/costa_rica/index.php.