Student Sustainability Challenge

Enter the CIEE Study Abroad Student Sustainability Challenge 

Are you a current CIEE student or a recent alum with innovative ideas about how sustainability can shape study abroad? If so, this is the competition for you! CIEE invites you to share your bold ideas in a two-part challenge that depicts your vision of a sustainable and interconnected world. 

Throughout the competition, participants will influence leaders in the field of study abroad. Finalists of the challenge will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the CIEE Annual Conference in Paris, France November 8-10, 2023, where they will engage in roundtable discussions and present their ideas. During the conference, a final review committee will rate presentations and select a winner! And it doesn’t stop there … 

The grand prize winner will have the unique opportunity to further advance their ideas and connect with key CIEE decision makers after the conference to action their proposal and truly make an impact on study broad. 


All J-term, spring, summer, and fall 2023 CIEE college study participants are eligible to participate. Students should be 18+, have a valid U.S. passport or hold a valid Schengen visa to enter France, and be available to travel to Paris, France November 8-November 11, 2023.


The CIEE Student Sustainability Challenge will consist of two phases: 

Round 1: Finalists Selection

  1. Submit a visually captivating digital poster proposal via slide deck (five slides maximum, can include infographics, images, etc.) that depicts the theme of enhancing sustainability in study abroad programs, highlighting the significance of sustainable practices, environmental consciousness, and the transformative experiences of studying abroad. Proposals should outline actionable strategies to achieve this goal.   
  1. Complete a short (two-minute) video interview presenting your proposal, specifically addressing why sustainability is important to you and how you hope study abroad leaders will promote sustainability in international education. 

Submissions selected for the final phase will:

  • Address a clear sustainability opportunity in education abroad 
  • Demonstrate research and understanding of the challenge in context 
  • Identify partners and stakeholders needed for change 
  • Identify feasibility issues (but not necessarily to limit boldness) 
  • Provide a range of options for study abroad providers to implement, from simple “quick fixes” with small but measurable impact to longer-range, ambitious improvements to last for generations 
  • Present their ideas in an engaging, exciting way

Deadline: Digital poster submissions (sent via slide deck) and interviews are due by September 25, 2023.

Round 2:

Five (5) selected finalists will present their digital poster proposals on-site in Paris, France during a roundtable session, where a final review committee will rate presentations and vote on a winner! 


Finalists will be notified by October 1, 2023, that they’ve been selected to attend the CIEE Annual Conference in Paris, France November 8-10, 2023.  


Participants are encouraged to be creative! For those looking for suggestions, consider the following digital poster design ideas: 

  • Cultural Exchange for Change: Explore how cultural immersion during study abroad can foster cross-cultural understanding and inspire sustainable practices. Depict students and locals collaborating on environmental initiatives. 
  • Live Local: Help future students reduce their carbon footprint while having fun and making the most of their study abroad experience! Showcase opportunities to immerse oneself in the host culture through local engagement and activities. Share your recommendations for experiences that go beyond conventional tourism and allow for an enhanced understanding of the local environment and culture. Insider tips for the best volunteer opportunities? Local soccer meet-ups? Poetry nights? Bonus points for strategies to encourage participation in such activities including marketing, promotion, and gamification possibilities.  
  • Local Knowledge, Global Impact: Highlight sustainability initiatives from host countries like recycling programs, energy-efficient practices, and community engagement strategies experienced during programs abroad. Emphasize how learning from different cultures through experiential activities on program can contribute to sustainable development and allow for cross-pollination of ideas. Portray how students can share their learnings back on home campuses post-program.  
  • Beyond Borders: Showcase the global collaboration required to address sustainability challenges. Highlight international partnerships, eco-conscious projects, and the sharing of best practices. Illustrate the power of global youth movements and international cooperation in driving sustainable change. Showcase how studying abroad can provide insights into climate change adaptation and common strategies across different regions.  
  • Empowering Future Leaders: Highlight the role of education abroad in nurturing environmentally conscious leaders who can drive sustainability initiatives globally. 
  • Eco-Friendly Study Abroad: Illustrate how students can minimize their environmental impact on a day-to-day basis while traveling abroad. Showcase sustainable transportation, carbon footprint reduction, and responsible guest practices in your host culture. Address how future students can contribute to sustainable practices while studying abroad. 

Deadline: Digital poster submissions (sent via slide deck) and interviews are due by September 25, 2023.