Sustainable, responsible and ethical internationalization

Anyone who has been exposed to stories about time travel cannot have missed a principle often connected with it – the time traveler should leave everything intact on their travel, or their actions can have grave implications for the future. This seems to ring increasingly true for our current daily travel as well. We are presently living in uncertain times, with a global pandemic restricting our lives to smaller circles than before, and the future looking as uncertain, with the latest IPCC report presenting worrying consequences of the climate change. All of this affects travel greatly, but in a circular motion, travel affects these crises as well.

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Wherever we go, we impact our surroundings, the current state of the globe and our common future. The consequences can be negative; over tourism, exploitation and environmental issues to name a few. The impacts may, however, be positive as well, especially when instead of a quick weekend getaway we slowly immerse ourselves, like often is the case in international exchange. The positive impacts for the individual may include personal and professional growth, but in addition being exposed to different ways of living can bring about awareness, unity and global solidarity. There might not be a way where we don’t impact anything in our travels, but we should aim for a situation where the impacts are as positive as possible. This can be done by focusing on sustainable, responsible and ethical ways of internationalization.  

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One of the new Erasmus+ programmes (2021-2027) three priorities among inclusion and digitalization is green Erasmus+, environment and fight against climate change. Erasmus+ plays a significant part in the internationalization of higher education institutions and the new focus comes in due time. This sends a powerful message and is in line with Laurea’s aims at sustainable internationalization.  As institutions we are at the forefront of doing better and it is in the structures that we operate in that the students can make better or worse decisions when it comes to making sustainable choices. While such structural change is vital for a wider impact, we have also collected the following tips that any student or staff member can utilize on making their international trips more sustainable, responsible and ethical.  

  • Do your research  
  • Aim for sustainable modes of travel  
  • Choose your destination responsibly  
  • Consume in a sustainable manner  
  • Respect people, nature and animals 
  • Use social media in an ethical way  
  • Participate in sustainability efforts  

The detailed list and more information and resources on sustainable, responsible and ethical internationalization can be found in international services intra page.

Written by: Anna Joutsijoki

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