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Global Study

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Where Will Graduate School Take You? 

COVID-19 UPDATE: To keep our students and faculty safe and to help slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, we are postponing all Global Study trips in accordance with Virginia Tech’s travel and study abroad policies

Stay tuned and stay healthy!

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

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. 

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 $3,300 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?

Cars on a cuban street

Located where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic Ocean meet, Cuba is one of the last countries still following the Marxist-Leninist ideology, and, as such, is one of the only remaining planned economies left in the world. In 2008, the country began to implement agricultural production reforms in an effort to boost food production and increase land use and efficiency. It has tripled its share of the Caribbean tourism market over the last decade as a result of significant investment in supporting infrastructure. For our students, the island nation is an ideal laboratory for studying various aspects of sustainability.

Why here? 

Camel at the pyramids

By 2050, the number of people living in the Nile River Basin is expected to jump to more than 850 million. Due to climate change and geopolitical tensions in the region, Egypt and the Nile River basin are projected to be among the global hotspots for water scarcity in the coming decades. Students in the CLiGS Egypt program examine how collaboration and cooperation will be essential to solving the transboundary environmental challenges of the Anthropocene.

Why here?

Waterfall in Iceland

Unlike many of our other Global Study sites, Iceland is a very sparsely populated island nation. It is home to active volcanoes and geysers, spectacular waterfalls, and abundant thermal energy. Iceland is also starting to feel the effects of climate change; specifically, rising sea levels are impacting its fisheries, an important segment of Iceland’s economy. Our students will have a chance to examine these types of challenges firsthand. 

people on a boat in India

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?       

Cape Town

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 in the CLiGS South Africa Program 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 at the same time creating jobs and improving public service delivery.

Why here? 

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.

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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