Wind FarmWhat does the future of sustainability look like? This question was on the minds of 12 students from across UAB as they recently experienced a week in Copenhagen, one of the world’s most sustainable cities. The answer, however, can be complicated, as the students found out.

During the Fall 2019 semester, students in the Sustainable Economics service-learning class researched UAB’s efforts to promote sustainability – from implementing bike lanes to planting trees – and how much it costs. During the Fall Break they traveled to Denmark to compare notes and see firsthand the future of sustainability.

UAB in Denmark student blog

“When [the students] were in Copenhagen, they were surprised by how much climate change matters to young professionals there,” said economics professor Sarah Culver, who led the Sustainable Economics class. “More importantly, their lifestyles aren’t stymied by adopting more sustainable behavior. It’s not a zero-sum game -- that more sustainability means less quality of life. You can have both.”

Stroget MarketAs part of Copenhagen’s plan to go carbon neutral by 2025, the city leans heavily on wind energy, representing a staggering 43% of energy supply. For economics major Rachel Clohan, visiting the Middelgrunden Wind Farm in Copenhagen was the best experience of the trip.

“Seeing the wind turbines on the boat showed me how other cultures are focusing on renewable energy,” said Clohan. She, along with finance student Camille Buaas, spent the semester in partnership with UAB Sustainability to research the financial cost associated with paper towel versus air dryer usage in Collat’s restrooms.

Clohan and Buaas discovered that eliminating paper towels wouldn’t be the cost-effective solution they expected. They presented their findings to their cohort and Julie Price, UAB Director of Sustainability, during a wrap-up dinner at the Collat School of Business.

Culver said she was impressed by all the students’ findings.

Tivoli Gardens“This class is more than study abroad because it incorporates a true service-learning pedagogy,” she said. “They researched seven different projects in service to UAB.”

Overall, students noted at the culmination of the trip that they were impressed with Copenhagen’s dedication to sustainability, beautiful architecture, dependable transportation and delicious food.

Learn more about upcoming Education Abroad experiences here. Applications for the Summer in Vietnam session just opened and are due by February 1! Applications for the 2020 Fall Break in Denmark session are due March 15.