Students can spend one day touring a state-of-the-art hydroelectric facility in Iceland, and the next glacier over they can try snorkeling and “super-jeeping” in excursions across the countryside, thanks to the Global Renewable Energy Education Network Program.
Since 2009, the GREEN Program has grown from the time it began in a Rutgers residential hall to helping students earn credits while traveling to Iceland and Peru.
Through the Philadelphia-based GREEN Program, created by the founders of the Rutgers Entrepreneurial Society, college students can enter short-term immersion programs designed to provide hands-on learning experiences in the field of renewable energy.
The program currently offers immersion programs in Philadelphia, Peru and Iceland. Students can earn up to three credits for completing a program, which typically last 5 to 10 days, according to the program’s website.
Melissa Lee, GREEN Program co-founder and CEO, said the destinations are carefully chosen to have strong reputations for the program topic, educational backgrounds, culture, safety and medical standards.
“Most importantly, we ensure pristine access into the industries by partnering and gaining support with governmental and local institutions to be a part of the GREEN vision,” said Lee, a Rutgers School of Communication and Information alumna.
The program is geared toward students with an interest in traveling, environment-friendly energy and new cultures. The program’s brief span is meant to encourage students who would normally be unable to study abroad due to its lengthy nature.
During the program, students can expect to engage in a variety of activities designed to focus on the destination’s renewable energy technology as well as its culture.
Activities outside of the classroom are designed to underscore themes of energy renewability.
Kevin Fu, a School of Engineering senior, mentioned having to avoid dangerous areas created by melting glacier ice while hiking in Iceland.
“The guides stressed the fact that they have to adjust their approach to the glacier hike every time they arrive due to the rapid changes,” Fu said. “The glacier hike at Sólheimajökull really underlined the effects of global warming.”
Alexander Tanenbaum, GREEN program director of marketing and strategy, said Rutgers students can earn up to three credits for completing a program. They can enroll in any of GREEN’s Iceland programs as a university course and receive scholarships or financial aid.
The GREEN Program has also hosted more than 1,000 students over nearly 100 programs so far, including 150 Rutgers students, said Tanenbaum, also a Rutgers SC&I alumnus. Additionally, the program has hosted students from more than 40 countries worldwide.
T. Brady Halligan, GREEN Program director of strategic partnerships and enrollment, said the program has grown since its inception to focus student leaders’ educational and career paths toward tackling the problems that haunt the world’s future.
Students interested in travel and promoting alternative policies to the current standards should hold interest in the GREEN Program, said George Clark Jr., a professor in the Department of Human Ecology.
Clark praised the GREEN Program for providing students with valuable knowledge about renewable energy and experiences with different cultures and students from across the country.
“I support the program because every one of the several dozen of my students who have gone have returned with positive reviews of the experience,” Clark said. “Not one has regretted doing it, and almost all have been very favorable in their comments.”
Kelsey Bridges, a master’s candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, said her GREEN Program trip to Peru helped her learn about Inca and Peruvian culture as well as water systems in a developing nation.
On her trip, Bridges visited water treatment facilities, a hydroelectric plant, Machu Picchu and Tipón. Her program also incorporated zip lining, white water rafting, salsa dancing and hiking.
Fiona Reidy, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior, said her experience in Iceland gave her first-hand knowledge and experience to apply to her studies and career development.
During her trip, Reidy was exposed to cutting-edge innovative sustainable energy technology, and spent her time outside the classroom hiking in views of glaciers and volcanoes, snorkeling and cave climbing.
Reidy also praised the convenience of the program, saying that while she never was able to consider studying abroad for an entire semester, the brief, intensive nature of the programs drew her to the opportunity.
“Learning and exploring in such a unique setting provided an eye-opening and soul-captivating experience, allowing me to leave with unforgettable memories and an even stronger desire to pursue all possibilities in environmental policy,” Reidy said.