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Global Study

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Where Will Graduate School Take You? 

UPDATE: Now that the world is gradually opening up again, we are planning Global Study experiences to start in the spring of 2022.

Every MNR student participates in a ten-day Global Study experience—a required part of our degree in both programs—to engage with real-world global sustainability challenges. Given the dynamic nature of travel at the moment, we are following Virginia Tech’s travel and study abroad policies to inform our decisions on destinations and timing. 

Locations our students and faculty visit during Global Study trips in both, Executive and Online degree programs.

Developing intercultural competence

The Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability is committed to advancing the knowledge and practice of environmentally sustainable development in a rapidly urbanizing and globalizing world. To gain insights and provide our students with direct global experience, we have developed a strong network of partners and projects in various parts of the world. 

Each semester, our graduate programs provide opportunities for graduate students and professionals from all disciplines and sectors to participate in these experiences and projects through our standard ten-day Global Study, a required part of our MNR degree. 

All students undergo a standardized cultural competence test, the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), administered by trained faculty members. Students in the XMNR program take the 50-question assessment upon entry into the program, and students in the Online MNR program take it as part of the Global Issues in Environmental Sustainability core course.

Can you choose your destination? 

While the Global Study destinations are built into the cohort experience for Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) students, Online Master of Natural Resources students have a choice of several destinations offered during their study period. Please see individual country descriptions to help in your planning.

Is it covered by tuition? 

Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) tuition includes all costs associated with a Global Study, except international airfare. 

Online Master of Natural Resources students pay an additional fee of $3,650 plus international airfare.  

Unable to travel abroad? 

If your circumstances might prevent you from traveling abroad for any reason, please talk with our admissions advisor, Emily Talley (, to discuss the possibilities of other options for meeting this requirement.

Where we work and where we are going

Argentinian building at sunset

Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world and the second-largest economy in South America. The country is home to some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, with fifteen continental and three oceanic zones, plus the Antarctic region. The capital, Buenos Aires, is a 15.6 million-strong megacity, popular with tourists. Argentina’s unique geography, vibrant biodiversity, economic-growth and urbanization trends make it an informative destination for students of sustainability. 

Why here?  

In this video, Dr. Daniel Marcucci introduces sustainability topics MNR students will explore during a Global Study trip to Argentina. 

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China landscape

Since 2010, CLiGS has worked in the Upper Mekong Basin in Yunnan Province, the Yangtze River Delta in the metropolitan area surrounding Shanghai, Guilin, and the Li River in Guangxi Province, and the mega-city of Hong Kong. Students explore the implications of various economic development strategies on the ecological infrastructure systems of the region, namely water systems, and evaluate what opportunities and strategies are available to manage these more sustainably.

Why here?  

Dubrovnik City

Although Croatia is a small country with just under 5 million residents, it has eight national parks. Plitvice Lakes National Park, which features an ecologically distinctive system of sixteen lakes and ninety-two waterfalls, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. CLiGS students learn about the country’s sustainability efforts, as increasing urbanization and land development are starting to threaten the ecologically sensitive environments. 

Why here?


Ghana enjoys the highest Global Sustainability Competitiveness Index ranking of all countries on the African continent. At the same time, the West African country is home to a slew of environmental challenges: pervasive air pollution, poverty, water scarcity, and rampant urbanization. But most critical are the environmental security challenges tied to climate change: competition for water between agricultural and energy production, and climate change effects on temperature and rainfall that could harm the essential cocoa industry, reduce GDP, and increase poverty. Students will explore all of these nuanced issues. 

India: Virginia Tech MNR Global Study

At nearly 1.2 billion people, India is the world’s largest democracy, and faces a host of promising yet daunting growth trends. With one third of the country’s population living in poverty, and increasing pressures from rapid urbanization and environmental degradation, now is an ideal time to focus on sustainability challenges in India. Students in the CLiGS India program explore the topics of water security, climate mitigation, and poverty.

Why here?       

Ireland, Global Study

Ireland has a rich agricultural history and is a net exporter of meat, dairy, beverages, and crops to 180 countries, which makes the country an important contributor to global food security. Students will explore Ireland’s role in the global agricultural supply chain and meet with key stakeholders, from national leaders to local farmers, to learn how large companies, artisan producers, manufacturers, retail, and food service are working together to create a sustainable agricultural industry. 


One of the world’s 17 “megadiverse” countries thanks to its tremendous biodiversity, rainforest-covered Peru is home to historic sites like the Sacred Valley, the city of Cusco, and the famous Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, as well as one of the most productive marine ecosystems, and some of the largest marine mammal and seabird colonies, on the planet. Climate change threatens Peru’s glaciers, Amazonian rainforest, marine resources, and cities, and the peoples of Peru. Students document how it is affecting the country’s natural and cultural resources and the livelihoods of its citizens, and devise climate-adaptation planning approaches to help ensure that Peru’s richness endures into the future.

Global Study, South Africa

The wealthiest of African nations and the financial gateway to the continent, post-apartheid South Africa is a fascinating place to consider the tensions between conservation and development, particularly with regards to water resources. Students work with key stakeholders in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to explore and advance cross-sector partnerships for improving water quality and access, while creating jobs and improving public service.

Barcelona, Spain, Global Study
Market in Morocco

As global temperatures continue to rise, water security becomes an increasingly urgent issue, particularly in Southern countries. In Spain, students explore water governance and management, and a range of energy issues, including energy justice. In Morocco, students observe the impacts of climate change in the region and work on projects in renewable energy, water rights and activism, and the effects of globalization on local communities.


Each in their century, Venice and Amsterdam dominated Western finance and commerce. At the peak of their influence, they were the wealthiest cities in Europe. Their coastal locations and powerful merchant and martial navies enabled each to rise to power, but also required large civic infrastructure projects to enable the cities to exist in the first place. Hundreds of years later, these iconic cities find themselves surrounded by rising seas and drowning in tourists. Reinforcing environmental security and conserving cultural heritage for both cities in the 21st Century will require a radical look at infrastructure and sustainability, as well as at the role of cities.


In the early 21st century, whether we knew it or not, the world entered the Anthropocene—a new epoch in which human presence is felt in every system on the planet, and where nothing on the planet is free from the influence of humanity. The Anthropocene forces us to recognize that the environmental problems we now face are our own doing, and the solutions are likewise ours to craft. Island nations such as Iceland and Cuba are unique in this rapidly changing world. They are struggling with threats to biodiversity, sea level rise, food security, and water supplies. “Islands in the Anthropocene” is a unique Global Study experience comparing two fascinating island nations. Together, we will be exploring the risks and possibilities these two places will face in the decades to come.

Tallinn, Estonia, Global. Study
Helsinki, Finland, Global Study

The Baltic Sea in northern Europe is the largest brackish water system in the world. It’s also a challenging-to-manage water body, bordering 11 different—and often uncooperative—nations. And now the sea is being threatened by eutrophication, fisheries depletion, pollution, non-native species, construction projects, and the fastest sea level rise in Europe. We will explore the complex management and the cross-national cooperation efforts in the region, including those of national and subnational governments, NGOs, cities, and corporations. We’ll learn about the similarities and differences that exist between the two countries, the two cities of Helsinki and Tallinn, and the importance of a common Baltic Sea Basin social identity in this challenging region, and the lessons for environmental sustainability.

Carbon Emissions Offsets

As an organization, we are focused on sustainability education, but our various programs and projects take us far around the world. All this travel is a significant source of carbon emissions, and we want to do everything in our power to help mitigate the negative effects of our work. 

To help us achieve our goals, we are partnering with Terrapass, an environmental company providing carbon offsets through clean energy and greenhouse-gas emission-reduction projects throughout the United States.

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