Freiburg, Germany

The Environmental Studies of Europe summer program is designed to provide students with first-hand exposure to the environmental issues facing Europe, with a focus on the European Union community and the policies being implemented to address these issues. The program is held in Freiburg, Germany, arguably the "greenest" city in Europe. Consistent with this status, Freiburg offers excellent examples of sustainable living: (1) extensive, reliable, and inexpensive public transportation, (2) prevalent use of solar panels, (3) high-profile wind turbines, (4) comprehensive curb-side recycling, and (5) access to extensive open space. In this last regard, Freiburg serves as the western gateway to the Black Forest. Class field trips sample all of these amenities. In addition to classroom discussion and local field trips, students visit the European Parliament in order to appreciate better the formulation of environmental protection policies.

Freiburg, Germany

Freiburg is a picturesque university and medieval cathedral town with a rich educational heritage. Now a modern, cosmopolitan city of 200,000 people, Freiburg's skyline is still dominated by the famous Gothic Münster (cathedral), and small streams (Bächle) dating from the Middle Ages still flow along the narrow streets in the city center. Though small enough that almost everything is within easy walking or biking distance, Freiburg is also large enough to offer a rich cultural life.

Located on the edge of the scenic Black Forest, an hour away from towering Alpine mountains, Freiburg is a year-round recreation center. Close to France, Switzerland, and many interesting regions of Germany, Freiburg offers an ideal jumping off point for exploring Europe.

Program Activities

During the program, the students will have the opportunity to visit the followng sites:

  • The European Parliament field trip will allow students to appreciate better the fomulation of environmental protection policies in Europe.
  • Freiburger Abfallwirtschaft is the main recycling facility in the city.
  • Weingut Wendelin Brugger is one of Germany's oldest organic winderies.  Our visit will allow students to observe sustainable agricultural practices, while enjoying locally produced wines, cheeses, and breads.
  • Freiburger Berkehrs AG (the VAG) is one of the most successful local public transport companies in Germany.
  • Students will also take a day trip to the Black Forest and Feldberg nature reserve.

Program Directors

Dietrich Earnhart is an associate professor in the economics department and is affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and the Center for Latin American Studies. In addition, he serves as the director of the Center for Environmental Policy within the Institute for Policy and Research. He has previously taught study abroad courses in Costa Rica and Italy and frequently teaches two levels of environmental economic courses and an environmental policy analysis course on campus in Lawrence.

Stacey Swearingen White is an Associate Professor and chair of the KU Urban Planning Department, and the Director of Academic Programs for the KU Center for Sustainability. She is the former Associate Director of the Environmental Studies Program. She teaches courses in sustainability and environmental planning.

Academic Program

Students will enroll in two courses for the program:

EVRN 550/ECON 550--Environmental Economics: Research Methods and Analytical Approaches
This course provides an overview of the theory, analytical approaches, and research methods, especially empirical research methods, of economic analysis as it applies to environmental issues.


EVRN 420/720--Environmental Sustainability in Europe's Green Communities
This course investigates how European cities, particularly Freiburg, are striving to implement principles of sustainability. Students analyze different aspects of "green" cities, making comparisons to U.S. cities, as appropriate


Students are housed with German students in single or double occupancy rooms in co-ed university residences. Housing will be suite-style with a shared kitchen and shared bath and private study/living areas.

Students will be able to prepare their own meals in the residence hall. Inexpensive meals will be available in the student cafeterias. There will also be several group meals provided.


Open to undergraduate, graduate and professional students from any accredited U.S. college or university. It is encouraged that participants have completed EVRN 148: Principles of Environmental Studies (or equivalent, such as EVRN 140 or EVRN 142) and ECON 142: Principles of Microeconomics (or equivalent) prior to departure.


Six hours of upper level undergraduate or graduate credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program.

Summer 2012

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