Ithaca College students with a passion for sustainability now have the opportunity to apply their interests abroad through Living Routes, the college’s newest affiliated study abroad program as of last Thursday.
Living Routes focuses on sustainability studies in ecovillages worldwide. Full year, semester, monthlong or summer programs are available in Scotland, India, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Australia and the United States.
Rachel Cullenen, director of study abroad in the Office of International programs, said Living Routes is the college’s only affiliated program where participants work in ecovillages.
“[Students are] going to get a very unique perspective of sustainability from a group of people who have chosen to live with a group of people who put that first and foremost,” Cullenen said.
Students are encouraged to express themselves in ecovillage communities both academically and artistically through non-traditional courses focused on critical advances in ecological conservation.
Senior Ben Kamens participated in the India ecovillage program last spring and said he learned by experience, not traditional academia.
“As part of our curriculum, we had yoga and meditation five days a week,” he said. “One day a week was set aside for personal reflection and contemplation, and we each did a service project.”
Each country offers different classes in a variety of fields such as political science, communications and the arts taught by Living Routes’ educators with master’s or Ph.D. qualifications.
Before the college’s affiliation with the program, students were not guaranteed the credits offered through the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Now, the college is part of Living Routes’ growing collection of partnered colleges that directly support the credit transfers.
Daniel Greenberg, executive director of Living Routes, grew up in Ithaca and said the program is an ideal match for the college considering its progressive mentality and accomplishments in sustainability.
“Ithaca College is really among the forefront of colleges and schools trying to model sustainable development,” he said.
Monique Gauthier, Living Routes collaborator, said students’ involvement in the ecovillage will allow them to understand the community’s purpose.
“They’re committing their lives to serving the Earth and serving each other,” said Gauthier.
Kamens said his Living Routes study abroad experience brought him inspiration, self-knowledge and worldly understanding.
“It was an eye-opening experience that showed me greater truth and deeper beauty than I had ever known existed, within my own self and all around me,” he said.