This article is part of the IP 2020 series, in which we publish abridged, general-public versions of the academic papers presented in the Euroculture Intensive Programme. This year’s topic was Sustainability.
By Lea Marie Quilitz
Between changing Europe and collecting miles: Students’ CO2 emissions resulting from air travel as an indicator for the environmental sustainability of the Euroculture program
Climate change is one of the world’s major concerns in the twenty-first century. Sustainability, or more precisely, environmental sustainability (ES), as a concept is widely considered as the solution to fight the dramatic effects of global warming that result from emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). The most prominent of these gases is probably carbon dioxide (CO2) which results inter alia from the use of internal combustion engines. Consequently, large amounts of CO2 can be associated with air travel which represents one of the means of transport most frequently used by students who participate in international mobility. The Master’s degree Euroculture is a program that offers an international study experience by allowing students to be enrolled in at least two European universities and to get into contact with students and staff from all over the world. However, the grand mobility of the program results in frequent relocation of students who often travel by plane to reach their next destination. As aviation is mostly considered an unsustainable way of traveling, the present study evaluates the ES of the Euroculture program measured by the calculated CO2 emissions caused by students’ study related air travel. Having said this, this study and its findings do not claim to be representative but present a case study to provide impulses for further examination on the subject. To give further insights on students’ travel habits and their opinions on the climate change debate, a survey additionally asked about the level of awareness and self-reflection regarding their mobile lifestyle.
Rhys Nugent (2019-2021), from the UK and Ireland, spent his first semester at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen and the second at Universidad de Deusto. He holds a Bachelor degree in Modern Languages and decided to apply for Euroculture to develop his interest in European affairs and culture while taking advantage of the social, professional and personal opportunities that formal education provides. He is currently residing in Bilbao, Spain and working as an intern at the European Citizen Action Service.
Euroculturer Magazine: What were your expectations when you applied/started the Euroculture MA and does it match the reality at the moment?
Rhys Nugent: I had expected that studying in multiple countries would challenge my preconceptions, improve my language skills and enable me to gain better insight into the cultural and social dimensions of Europe. I had also hoped to meet students from around the world, learn about new projects and opportunities and make memories to cherish alongside new friends around Europe. Needless to say that a global pandemic had not been at the forefront of my mind when applying for MA Euroculture but, alas, here we are. Most of my expectations were met during my first two semesters of MA Euroculture. I was able to study in two fascinating countries that lie close to my heart. I managed to improve my German language skills in my first semester while refreshing my Spanish language skills in my second semester. I feel like I have a significantly better understanding of European affairs and politics, partly thanks to my degree and partly thanks to my extracurricular activities, and I have made new friendships which I value greatly from all corners of Europe and beyond. I am particularly grateful for the flexibility that both universities have provided me, whether it was their relaxed approach to class attendance or how generous they were regarding essay deadlines. This might seem an odd point to make but one of my greatest fears in returning to formal education was that my epilepsy might disrupt my studies and hinder me from making my deadlines – fortunately, both universities were incredibly compassionate when I faced issues. In this regard, my expectations have certainly been met.
Interview conducted by Marco Valenziano from the “Becoming Bruxellois from Afar” project
This article is part of a series of interviews conducted by a group of Groningen students as part of their Eurocompetence II project. The interviewees all work in Brussels institutions and were asked questions related to the Euroculture’s 2020 IP topic: “A sustainability Europe? Society, politics and culture in the anthropocene”. Here, Marco Valenziano asked Eline Schaart, a young female journalist from Politico to give us her perspectives on sustainability in the news.
Marco Valenziano: Could you please introduce Politico and its main objectives?
Eline Schaart: Politico is a global nonpartisan politics and policy news organization, launched in Europe in April 2015. Our European division is a joint-venture between POLITICO LLC, based in the USA and Axel Springer, the leading publisher in Europe. With operations based in Brussels and additional offices in London, Berlin, Paris, Rome, and Warsaw, Politico connects the dots between global power centres. In June 2018, an annual ComRes/Burson-Marsteller survey ranked Politico as the Number One most influential publication on European affairs, for the second year running. Its journalism lives online at politico.eu; in POLITICO Pro, the real-time subscription-based policy news service for professionals; in daily morning newsletters, such as Brussels Playbook and London Playbook; in print via a weekly newspaper; and through live events.