• Accredited Field Course

    Applied Sustainability

    A 4-credit field course in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, or Vietnam


Dates (2022): May 29-Jun 18  |  Jun 19-Jul 9  |  Jul 10-30  |  Jul 31-Aug 20

Credit: 4 US credits (~ 8 ECTS credits) for eligible university students

Eligibility: High school juniors/seniors, undergrad, grad

Program fees: US $2,370


Request Information >

or Contact Us >

Course overview

Choose one of four fascinating destinations in Africa or Asia, select an engaging interdisciplinary track for your real-world project, and embark on a transformative journey with The Most Vital Course of our Time.

This 3-week adventure not only enables you to acquire the skills, knowledge, and understanding to address sustainability challenges and opportunities in a holistic way. Far beyond, it’s one of the best ways to dive deep into the life and culture of a community in a foreign part of the world. As a member of a small multicultural cohort and hand-in-hand with key local stakeholders, you explore sustainable development through the eyes of your hosts.

The course builds on the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) approach coined by UNESCO. Accordingly, we use an “action-oriented, transformative pedagogy, which supports, self-directed learning, participation and collaboration, problem-orientation, inter- and transdisciplinarity, and the linking of formal and informal learning”.



  • Develop cross-cutting key competencies for sustainability that are relevant to all SDGs.
  • Develop specific learning outcomes needed to achieving selected particular SDGs.
  • Engage in a collaborative real-world project via community-engaged learning and campaigns.
  • Explore sustainable development opportunities and challenges in a leading African or Asian success story.
  • Broaden your personal and professional network, and build lasting international friendships.
  • Program locations


  • Program locations


  • Program locations

    South Africa

  • Program locations


Program locations



The political and economic leader of East Africa, Kenya might still be most well-known internationally for the immense diversity and beauty of its landscapes and wildlife. But that’s only part of the story. In recent years, its capital Nairobi has become an epicenter for innovation. This is best seen by exploring the incredible tech startup scene with its dozens of accelerators, incubators, and innovation hubs.



One of today’s greatest development success stories, Rwanda is Africa’s prime study abroad jewel. The country underwent a breathtaking transformation since the 1994 genocide. A model for poverty reduction and economic growth, it accounts for the highest percentage of women in parliament anywhere in the world. And the streets of its modern green capital Kigali are clean, safe, and free of corruption.

South Africa

South Africa has emerged from its troubled and turbulent past into a healthy democratic country and the economic powerhouse of the African continent. At the same time, it’s a great place to witness a society going through dynamic changes, as it can still be considered both a developed and an underdeveloped country. South Africans forge a new identity, strongly embracing their unique multicultural character.


The Asian Dragon is undergoing some of the fastest socio-economic changes any country in the world has seen. It is a major development success story with remarkable rates of economic growth since the start of massive political and economic reforms in 1986. But the lure of modern living has a deep impact on the traditional networks of family and community that continue to play a pivotal role in society.


The course is offered as a 3-week field course. All participants meet at their gateway cities (Nairobi, Kigali, Cape Town, Ho Chi Minh City) for a comprehensive in-country orientation (3 days). Afterwards, they transfer to their respective local host communities in groups of no more than 20. Such host communities can consist of a neighborhood in the gateway city, a smaller city or town, or also a more rural area. Here, they spend the next 15 days. By the end of the course, all participants meet again at their gateway cities for a conference and final group activities (2 days).

At their host communities, participants study and work in cohorts of around 5. Weekday mornings are typically reserved for a mix of didactic and action-oriented experiential learning activities to study applied SDGs in the local context. Content, materials, and assignments are mostly provided virtually, before participants go out into the community for guided transformational real-life learning.

During weekday afternoons, participant cohorts link up with a group of local peers – frequently local high school students from a partner school – for a guided collaborative real-world project relating to their assigned interdisciplinary track. Examples of projects include the development of a community sustainability monitoring framework, the creation of teaching aids that can be used in sustainability and STEM education, the organization of a school mental health awareness campaign, or the creation of local micro-enterprises. The project work typically culminates in a special event that engages the entire school or community.


Further details:

Interdisciplinary tracks
As a participant, you will be assigned to an interdisciplinary track. During your application, you can provide us with your preferences. We will gladly take these preferences into account but can unfortunately not guarantee that we will be able to meet your requests. Typical interdisciplinary tracks include Economic Empowerment, Education for Sustainable Development, Environmental Sustainability, Mental Health, Public Health, and Women & Leadership.

Inclusivity is a very important value of ours. We believe that everybody should be able to access Education for Sustainable Development. As such, we generally welcome participants aged 16 and above with no specific prerequisites or requirements. That said, if you are under the age of 18, please check with your country’s laws and regulations as well as with your academic home institution as to whether you are actually allowed to participate in an individual study abroad experience. We typically do not provide chaperones of our own.

Course requirements & student evaluation
Our courses are designed to follow U.S. academic culture and standards. Since the course is a full semester in content, the pace is accelerated and the workload is demanding. The U.S. grading scale of A to F is used. Participants will receive a variety of assignments. You will be evaluated according to such elements as Course participation and engagement, Weekly reflective journal or blog, Journalistic article, and Group presentation. To be eligible to obtain the academic credits (for undergrad students), you also need to submit an essay.

4 U.S. credits (~ 8 ETCS credits) for eligible undergrad students via our academic school of record, The College of New Jersey

Language of instruction
The language of instruction is English.

Dates, fees, and scholarships

The program dates are generally identical across our four program locations – Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Vietnam.


Program Application due Start date End date Fees*
Summer 1 April 1, 2022 May 29, 2022 June 18, 2022 US $2,370
Summer 2 April 1, 2022 June 19, 2022 July 9, 2022 US $2,370
Summer 3 May 1, 2022 July 10, 2022 July 30, 2022 US $2,370
Summer 4 May 1, 2022 July 31, 2022 August 20, 2022 US $2,370
* Early bird discount (10%) available until March 1, 2022 for all program dates.


We value full transparency and no hidden costs. As a result, you won’t have any disappointing surprises when you arrive.

Included in your program fees are airport transfers; housing, meals, activities, excursions, and local transportation during the on-site orientation and the final wrap-up days; transfers to and from the host community; housing with breakfast at the host community; full-time leadership and support; pre-departure advising; and health insurance.

It is important that you take note of what is explicitly not included in the program fees. This helps you budget. Not included are the transportation to/from the program location airport (including international airfare and taxes), visas, immunizations, meals at and local transportation at the host community, excursions that you may want to do in your own time during weekends, general items and services of a personal nature, medical expenses not covered by the insurance provided, and other discretionary expenses.

In addition, if you are an undergraduate student and want to seek academic credit, your college or university may charge additional fees for study abroad, or may require you to receive a transcript via GEI’s academic school of record, The College of New Jersey, which carries an additional fee of US $500.



GEI offers scholarships for students with proven academic or extra-curricular merit. You can find additional information in the following blog post: Scholarships.

Our program staff

Our in-country program staff consists of experienced local education, sustainability, and program operations experts.


Yvan Rubengebenge
Regional Director, East Africa

Cailin Human, MBA
Regional Director, Southern Africa 

Thuy Phan, MA
Regional Director, Southeast Asia

Francoise Uzamukunda, MA
Academic Director, East Africa

Eric Kingoina, DCS
Operations, Kenya

Solange Uwera, BSc
Operations, Rwanda 

Adeline Imanirakiza, DIS
Operations, Rwanda

Amy Lin, MA
Operations, Vietnam




Where are you located?
We are officially incorporated in New York and headquartered in Berlin. Our GEI Regional Study Centers are located in Kigali (Rwanda), Nairobi (Kenya), Cape Town (South Africa) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).
Where do you operate programs?
Our study abroad programs generally focus exclusively on our GEI Regional Study Centers in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, and Vietnam. That said, institutional affiliate partners regularly request that we provide their faculty-led and custom programs also in neighboring countries. As such, we have the operational capacity and experience to provide programs across our three regions – in East Africa (Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda), Southern Africa (Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe), and Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).


Application & credits

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to join your programs?
We welcome applicants from all nationalities in our programs. If you seek academic credits or continuing education credits, please make sure that your home institution will accept the (typically U.S.) credits that we offer. More details about credits can be found on our program pages.
Is a deposit required to apply?
Yes, your application is only complete with the payment of a non-refundable deposit payment of US $300 that goes towards your total program fee.
Is my deposit refundable?
No. Your deposit is not refundable. However, should you not be able to join a program, deposits can be stored for one year and used for another GEI program after discussion with your GEI coordinator. Please contact us immediately if you need to cancel your participation.
Before I apply, is it possible to contact an alumnus?
Sure, if you’re still looking for answers, we’ll be happy to connect you with one of our alumni.
What kind of credits do you offer?
We have signed a School of Record agreement with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Undergraduate student participants of our courses are generally eligible for U.S. credits via TCNJ. You can find more information in the following blog post: Academic Credits.
How much do credits cost?
Credits are not typically included in regular program fees. They typically cost an additional US $500 (4 credits), payable to us.
How long will it take to receive my transcript?
It can take up to 4 weeks for you or your home university to receive a transcript.


Healthy & safety

Do you have a COVID-19 vaccination policy?
Yes. At GEI, we value the health and safety of all members of our worldwide community as paramount. This not only includes program participants, but also staff, instructors, host community partners, and logistics, activity, and excursion partners. We find that it is vital that we try to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 and its variants between and within the communities in which we live and work. It goes without saying that we have strong prevention measures in place. But vaccination is an important additional element of our health and safety strategy in order to significantly increase protection for all members of the GEI community. As a result, we have made it a requirement for all members of our worldwide community who have access to an approved vaccine – especially including all program participants – to be fully vaccinated no later than January 1, 2022. To report your vaccination status, you must provide us a copy of your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, or other acceptable form of proof, by uploading it to your GEI account before the start of your program. If you are receiving a two-dose vaccine (e.g., Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca), the card or form of written proof should indicate that you have received both doses. We will only accept exemption or accommodation from the vaccination requirement upon request for documented medical or deeply held religious reasons, or for any reasons protected by your home country’s law. In such a case, please contact us so that we can provide you with a COVID-19 Vaccination Exemption Request Form that you need to complete. We shall review your request for exemption or accommodation, taking into consideration the particulars of the spread of the disease and the conditions of vaccination status of the host location. In any case, we may not be able to accommodate such requests, especially if country laws, policies, and public health regulations supersede our own GEI requirements.
How do you monitor safety and security at your program locations?
The continuous monitoring of safety and security at our program locations has been an intimate part of our daily work since the very beginning of our operations. All of our decisions are made after careful consideration of every resource at our fingertips – our GEI Regional Study Center staff, our diverse in-country institutional partners, contacts in the field, relevant local government and police sources, local diplomatic missions and a variety of news sources. Our program managers subscribe to various countries’ travel warnings and advisories, including those of the U.S. State Department. Resident managers make every reasonable effort to stay informed, and they disseminate updates to GEI staff and program participants about any changes that have implications on local safety, security and health risks. And, when necessary, we take immediate action, including program relocation or evacuation.
What does your response to crises look like?
Over the years of operating in Africa and Asia, we have unfortunately been forced to occasionally deal with diverse crises, ranging from civil unrest, terrorist attacks, politically motivated violence or street crimes to car accidents, public health and medical emergencies and natural disasters. As terrible and sad as every single one of these events has been, they have strengthened our ability to foresee and prevent many potential problems, and to respond swiftly and decisively to any crisis that really hits us. They have also helped us to develop the networks and relationships to those institutions and individuals who can make the difference in the event of an emergency.
Will you provide health insurance?
Yes. Participants of our study abroad programs receive a comprehensive health insurance that includes evacuation coverage. This is part of the program fees and arranged by GEI.


Trip arrangements

Do you help with flights?
No. We are not a travel agent and only provide in-country services. Our partners and clients regularly recommend StudentUniverse for affordable international options.
Can I arrive earlier or depart later?
No problem to arrive earlier or depart later. But you will be responsible for covering the added costs. If desirable, please contact us with your travel plans. If we’re able to assist with housing, transportation services, and excursions, we’ll gladly do so. Late arrivals are not permitted, unless previously discussed with GEI.
What are the living arrangements?
Depending on the program and the program location, we offer different types of accommodation: hotels, guest houses, serviced apartments or homestays. As a general rule, study abroad programs utilize trusted guesthouses in gateway cities and trusted guesthouses, serviced apartments, or homestays in host communities. The latter are particularly applicable to interns. You can find additional information in the following blog post: Accommodation.
Do I need a power converter?
Most of the modern electronic devices no longer need power converters. Please check if all your devices can cover the current between 110–230 Volt.
Is there Wi-Fi available?
In gateway cities, we typically select hotels and guesthouses where Wi-Fi is relatively reliable, as long as you take into account that you’ll be staying in a developing country where internet speed can be slow and patchy. Homestay host families don’t always have an internet connection readily available. In such a case, we offer mobile hotspots that you can rent at an additional fee. At the host communities, we’ll make every effort to also provide internet access, even though speed and reliability are likely to be significantly poorer.
Can you accommodate my dietary restrictions?
In the great majority of cases Yes! A lot of the participants we host have dietary restrictions or food allergies. Please make sure to let us know in advance – on your application form – precisely what restriction of allergy you have. We will then try our very best to accommodate for your needs, whether at a hotel or guesthouse or with a host family or serviced apartment.



Once my deposit is received, does that mean that I'm accepted into the program?
Yes. Our programs are generally inclusive and we welcome any and all participants aged 16 or older.
Does my deposit go towards the full price of the program?
Yes, the deposit counts toward your program balance and will hence be deducted from the final payment.
Is my deposit refundable?
No. Your deposit is not refundable. However, should you not be able to join a program, deposits can be stored for one year and used for another GEI program after discussion with your GEI coordinator. Please contact us immediately if you need to cancel your participation.
Does GEI offer scholarships?
Yes. GEI offers scholarships for students with proven academic or extra-curricular merit. You can find additional information in the following blog post: Scholarships.
How can I finance my experience abroad?
Don’t wait until the last minute to take care of this important point. Various options are possible (scholarships, fellowships, financial aid, grants or loans) and seeking multiple resources, including from friends and family, may be a very good idea. You can find additional information in the following blog post: Financing your experience abroad.