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Environmental Sustainability in Germany

Environmental Sustainability in Germany
Learn first-hand the environmental issues facing Europe, with a focus on the European Union community and the policies being implemented to address these issues.
Freiburg, Germany
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
Environmental Studies
Graduate Courses
Program Type: 
Fulfills KU Core 4.2
Open to non-KU Students
Faculty Led
  • Spend 4 weeks studying environmental policy in Europe's "greenest" city.
  • Educational excursions to the Black Forest, European Parliament, a photovoltaic soccer stadium, and more.
  • Experience first-hand the European approach to sustainable living.
  • Next offering: Summer 2022
Program Summary: 

The Environmental Studies of Europe summer program is designed to provide students with first-hand exposure to the environmental issues facing Europe, with a focus on the European Union community and the policies being implemented to address these issues. The program is held in Freiburg, Germany, arguably the “greenest” city in Europe. Consistent with this status, Freiburg offers excellent examples of sustainable living: (1) extensive, reliable, and inexpensive public transportation, (2) prevalent use of solar panels, (3) high-profile wind turbines, (4) comprehensive curb-side recycling, and (5) access to extensive open space.  Freiburg also serves as the western gateway to the Black Forest. Class field trips explore all of these amenities. In addition to classroom discussion and local field trips, students visit the European Parliament in order to better appreciate the formulation of environmental protection policies.


Freiburg is a picturesque university and medieval cathedral town with a rich educational heritage. Now a modern cosmopolitan city of 200,000 people, Freiburg’s skyline is still dominated by the famous Gothic Münster (cathedral) and small streams (Bächle) dating from the Middle Ages still flow along the narrow streets in the city center. Though small enough that almost everything is within easy walking or biking distance, Freiburg is also large enough to offer a rich cultural life.

Located on the edge of the scenic Black Forest and an hour from towering Alpine mountains, Freiburg is a year-round recreation center. Close to France, Switzerland, and many interesting regions of Germany, Freiburg offers an ideal jumping off point for exploring Europe.

Academic Information: 

Six hours of upper level undergraduate or graduate credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program.

EVRN 550/ECON 550: Environmental Economics: Research Methods and Analytical Approaches
This course provides an overview of the theory, analytical approaches, and research methods, especially empirical research methods, of economic analysis as it applies to environmental issues.

EVRN 420/720: Environmental Sustainability in Europe’s Green Communities
This course investigates how European cities, particularly Freiburg, are striving to implement principles of sustainability. Students analyze different aspects of “green” cities, making comparisons to U.S. cities, as appropriate.


Students are housed in single or double occupancy rooms in co-ed university residences. Housing is suite-style with a shared kitchen and bath and private study/living areas.

Students will be able to prepare their own meals in the residence hall or purchase inexpensive meals in student cafeterias. A welcome dinner and farewell dinner are included in the program fee.

Life Abroad: 

During the program, students will participate in several excursions that illustrate concepts learned in the classroom and provide exposure to different facets of life in Germany.  Planned excursions include a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France; a tour at a local bakery to view its sustainability practices; exploration of Freiburg's solar-powered soccer stadium; and hiking in the Black Forest.  Students will also be introduced to the German language through basic lessons in survival German.

Identity Abroad: 

SAGE is dedicated to creating international engagement opportunities that meet the needs of all our students and providing resources to support you through the process of studying abroad. Study abroad is achievable for students of all identities including our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students, students with disabilities, and students with religious/non-religious viewpoints. Before selecting a program, consider how your identities may impact your experience abroad in unique ways and talk with your Program Coordinator about any program-specific concerns. Students with documented disabilities should discuss any accommodation needs with their Program Coordinator early in the planning process.

Considerations for Germany

Germany has laws in place to protect ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQIA+ individuals, the differently abled, and other groups. Same-sex marriage is available in Germany and most large city governments officially encourage and host LGBTQIA+ pride events. 

Germany’s cities and public transportation are generally accessible to individuals with disabilities.  Older sections of the cities and smaller towns may be less accessible due to centuries-old architecture, cobblestone streets, and small indoor spaces. Germany offers services for people who are mobility, sight, or hearing impaired.

Source: U.S. Department of State country information pages and Diversity Abroad.

Additional Resources

Check our Identity Abroad page and resources listed below for information specific to you and other students who may be on your program.


Open to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from any accredited U.S. college or university. It is recommended that participants will have completed EVRN 148: Principles of Environmental Studies (or equivalent) and ECON 142: Principles of Microeconomics (or equivalent) prior to departure.  Minimum 2.5 GPA required, but exceptions considered after submission of a petition.

Further Reading: 

This program is conducted in conjunction with IES Abroad.  View an IES Abroad video about Freiburg here or visit their Freiburg photo gallery here.   

For more information, contact:

Dietrich Earnhart
Department of Economics
435 Snow Hall
phone: 785-864-2866
e-mail: earnhart@ku.edu

Stacey White
Urban Planning
216 Snow Hall
phone: 785-864-3530
e-mail: sswhite@ku.edu

Program Faculty: 

Dietrich Earnhart is a Professor in the Department of Economics and is affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and the Center for Latin American Studies.  In addition, he serves as the director of the Center for Environmental Policy within the Institute for Policy and Social Research (IPSR).  He has previously taught study abroad courses in Germany, Costa Rica, and Italy and frequently teaches two levels of environmental economic courses on campus in Lawrence.

Stacey Swearingen White is Professor and Director of the Urban Planning Program, and a faculty affiliate of the Environmental Studies Program. She previously served as Director of Academic Programs for the KU Center for Sustainability. Her teaching includes an undergraduate course in sustainability, and two graduate courses in urban planning.

Add Course: 
Cross-listed with EVRN 550.
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Cross-listed with ECON 550
Language of Instruction: 
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KU Credit Hours: 
Language of Instruction: 
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KU Credit Hours: 
Language of Instruction: 
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Spring 2022 programs now accepting applications !

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