Study Abroad Programs

The study abroad experience is often a huge draw to the University of Denver, and nearly 80 percent of undergraduate students take advantage of this awesome opportunity. DU offers some of the most unique and exciting study abroad opportunities available, and with so many programs and countries to choose from, it can feel almost impossible to find a program that is the perfect fit for your interests, goals and passions.

The study abroad experience can be a wonderful way to gain a more global perspective on a topic you have already been studying and working on here in Denver, which can serve to enhance your entire course of study and professional trajectory. The Office of International Education offers 41 different programs related to sustainability across 22 different countries. However, each one touches on different aspects of sustainability, and we are committed to helping students find the program that will enhance and continue a challenging and fulfilling research or learning trajectory.

International Sustainable Development Studies Institute - ISDSI

Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Sustainable Development Studies Semester offered by ISDSI is an intensive four-month study abroad experience that looks into issues surrounding the intersection of sustainability and development in Thailand. The program is split into four one-month class blocks, taken one at a time.

  1. Thai Language and Society: Live in the city of Chaing Mai with a host family while taking an intensive Thai language course, seminars in Thai culture and society, and frequent field trips to get familiar with your new home.

  2. Sustainable Food Systems: Work at farms and in rice-paddies and study natural resource management, food supply, permaculture and the role of biological and sociological systems in global sustainability. 

  3. Political Ecology of Forests: Traverse the jungles of northern Thailand while studying forest ecology and governance. Farming, backpacking and more wonderful mentors are featured during this course.

  4. Culture and Ecology of the Andaman: This course moves away from the land to focus on the oceans. During this class, you’ll get to try out traditional fishing methods, explore mangrove forests and sea kayak through the Andaman Islands. 

During each course, you get the opportunity to select a personal research topic that relates to the broader course themes. Gain experience in field research and ethnographic practices, and a deeper understanding of the place and context in which you are taking the course. 

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I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on this program, as it gave me the opportunity to explore and learn about sustainability and development in a context completely different from what I am used to. I got the opportunity to critically explore what sustainability looks like and means to various different subgroups of the Thai population, which allowed me to reflect and disassemble my preconceived conceptions of what sustainability means. This program broadened my scope of understanding and has given me new perspectives that I can now apply to both my future studies and work.

Seamus Geraty, Fall 2019

School for International Training: Ecology and Conservation in Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

The SIT Ecology and Conservation study abroad program is a structured, research-centered experience, taught entirely in Spanish. The program is based out of Quito, Ecuador, but most of the learning and class time takes place in the ecosystems you are learning about: 

  • Above 12,000 feet in the Andes

  • The lush montane cloud forest

  • The depths of the eastern Amazon rainforest

  • Along the untouched shores of the Galapagos

  • An indigenous village invested in eco-tourism

You will spend about a week in each ecosystem visiting reserves and research stations in order to study the flora and fauna of the area, developing safe and responsible field research methods.

After completing the field visits with the class, the remaining month of the semester is spent conducting personal research on a topic with which you resonate and about which you wish to develop a deeper understanding. All research projects are intended to support the conservation efforts of the reserves you’ve visited. 

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For my Independent Study Project, I studied forest recovery based on different reforestation practices in a high montane cloud forest. I lived with a host family in a small village just outside of the reserve I studied in which was part of a local organization working to empower the community’s women. The hike up to the research station took about 2 hours and crossed more than 10 waterfalls following the valley’s river along the way. Although measuring trees for me was not particularly riveting, working every day in untamed Ecuadorian rainforest as well as living in a welcoming, loving community was the best part of my study abroad experience. I also kept a blog while abroad with plenty of stories and pictures to provide a better idea of all I did! Check it out.

Halle Brown, Fall 2019 Participant

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID): Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

The MSID Ecuador program is a unique and hands-on opportunity for students to learn about sustainability and development. The program offers several tracks that students can follow, one of which is the Sustainability and Environment track. In this track, students will investigate the relationship between environmental and natural resource challenges and the local community. You will discuss critical issues the country is facing, including sustainable food and water sources, natural resource utilization and management, climate change, wildlife management and sustainable development.

You will spend the first two months of the program attending classes — taught fully in Spanish — at Fundacion Cimas del Ecuador. Class topics will focus on development in Ecuador and the culture and history of the country in general. During this period you will take trips around the country with the entire group — regardless of track — and learn about indigenous populations and their traditions. Additionally, the Sustainability and Environment track will give you the opportunity to go to the Amazon and see firsthand the impacts of the petroleum industry, as well as inspiring locally-owned sustainable chocolate and coffee production. 

After your time in Quito, your group will split up to pursue individual internships relevant to your track and interests. This will give you the opportunity to forge real connections and relationships with your organization, and to get a deep understanding of the work happening around sustainability in Ecuador.

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MSID: Ecuador offered me a look into the intersection of international development and sustainability. This gave me a global perspective on sustainability and consumer impacts around the world, which is incredibly valuable for my future work in environmental sustainability. The program gave me the opportunity to see environmental impacts outside of the US bubble whether it be oil in the Amazon or outdoor education with the Ecuadorian youth. I was able to create relationships with people in a completely different part of the world where I was able to practice Spanish, learn a new culture, and develop a global perspective on how everything is connected in the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainability.

Grace Houser, Fall 2018

Food and Sustainability Studies Program (FSSP), Umbra Institute

Perugia, Italy

The Food and Sustainability Studies Semester Program at the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy, is an incredible opportunity to delve into detailed science, sustainability, food, anthropology and culture courses while also participating in hands-on extracurricular activities such as field trips, culinary classes or volunteering. In addition to this, you will get to live in Perugia, Italy — a place that has enough local charm to truly experience Italian culture, while still feeling like a bustling city filled with students. You will take Italian classes for the entire semester which immerse you even further in Italian culture.

The program offers three tracks for students to choose from:

  • Food Studies focuses its courses on topics such as Food Anthropology, Business of Wine and Olive Oil, Sustainable Food Production or History of Food in Italy. 

  • Environmental Studies and Sustainability includes courses related to Global Sustainable Business, Water Resources, Tourism for Sustainable Development or Green Cities. 

  • The Combination track allows students to combine Food Studies and Environmental Studies, and includes two food-related courses and two environmental science-related courses. 

No matter which track you choose, you will take a one-credit course called "Experiencing Italian Foodways," along with your Italian language course. Additionally, you’ll take three or four other courses related to the track you have chosen. By the end of the semester, you will have a deep understanding of the food systems and local food operations in Italy, and how this global perspective can drive a better understanding of local food systems wherever you are.

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My time in Perugia was incredible! The Food Studies program allowed me to focus on my Sustainability minor and connect it to a passion of mine: food and cooking. In my classes, I learned basic Italian, food history, politics and immigration, sustainable agriculture, what makes a restaurant experience truly authentically Italian, and so much more. In addition, the program brought us on excursions where I learned how to make pasta, how to hunt for truffles, how to tell if a gelato stand is legitimate, how to properly enjoy wine and aperitivo, and how local foods are produced. On top of all of this, I made a great group of friends in the beautiful town of Perugia located on the top of a hill in Umbria, the "green heart of Italy." 

Sophia Anner, Fall 2018