Authors: Rachel Bomser, Dr. Heather Gibson, Hongping Zhang
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Heather Gibson
College: College of Health and Human Performance
Study abroad programs have become increasingly popular (IIE, 2019). Study abroad provides students with multiple tangible benefits, both professionally and personally (Kronholz e.t, 2016). Since 2007, the University of Florida has hosted summer field-based, sustainability-focused study abroad programs in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of these study abroad programs on environmental attitudes, change of major, and subsequent career choice. Program alumni (2007-2019) completed an online questionnaire. N= 94 responded to a 16 item pro-environmental scale (never true=1, always true=7), impact on major (yes=1, no=2), career (yes=1, no=2), and open-ended questions. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and content analysis. There was no significant difference among program location and environmental attitude (F=2.360; df=2, 91; p >.05). Mean scores for environmental attitudes were: Australia (M=5.34), New Zealand (M=4.84), and Fiji (M=5.42). Five of 94 respondents changed majors, and 39/93 reported study abroad influenced their career choice. Content analysis revealed participation influenced: n=14 to pursue a sustainability- focused career, n=8 to work in “a helping-profession”, n=6 to pursue ecotourism, and n=4 to study environmental law. Program participation seems to be influential for some in future career choice, but not major change.