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Environmental Advocacy & the Psychology of Change


Kappara, Gozo, Malta

Program Description

The tiny country of Malta, situated in the Mediterranean Sea, is roughly the size of our own Rockingham County. Natural resources, open spaces, environmental stewardship, and conservation are necessary to preserve a balance and the need to be mindful is paramount.

During this Study Abroad, we will be fully engaged in experiential learning as we explore the environmental issues and meet the people behind the NGOs leading the movements. Our primary partner will be TerraFirma Collective, an organization whose aim is to create an environment where NGOs can plan and carry out joint projects and campaigns in the future. TerraFirma Collective currently consists of NGOs such as Friends of the Earth Malta, Malta Organic Agriculture Movement, Youth for the Environment, BirdLife Malta, SPCA Malta, Slow Food Malta, fish4tomorrow, and Sharklab-Malta, just to name a few.

The course itself will have a strong cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary, advocacy/stewardship, and personal development emphasis. We will explore all the corners of the island, from sustainable farms, wildlife sanctuaries, sea turtle rescues, forest restoration areas, underground treasures, and beautiful protected areas. It promises to be a truly transformative adventure.

As we learn about the campaigns and cooperation, we will also learn about how the Maltese people's connection to their natural world, sense of place, and cultural identity impact sustainability efforts. And we will explore how the power of a clear mission and cooperation can lead to powerful change.


1. Learn about sense of place, nature connectedness, and the cultural influences on environmental advocacy and environmental movements. 

2. Interact with a variety of NGOs and government organizations in order to learn how they address environmental issues and try to influence change.

3. Learn about the message design, psychology of change, and elements of cooperation and collaboration that strengthen efforts to protect the environment and engage citizens in their natural world.

Information Session:

Monday, October 23 at 6:00 PM in the Center for Global Engagement (Madison Hall - 2nd Floor)

Location Description

For over 18 years, James Madison University has organized a study abroad program in Malta, a small island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea that is geographically and culturally diverse. Students are immersed into 7,000 years of history, as they meander the narrow, winding streets of Malta’s towns and visit ancient temples and grand palaces. The island has an extensive ancestry, connecting its customs, styles, and traditions to a myriad of cultures. The natural environment of Malta will serve as an open air, experiential classroom, with its incredible blue sea, cliffs, fields, secret inlets, and perfect sunshine. As students step into its unique culture, they step into a world of adventure.
One of the reasons for choosing Malta is the highly active cultural, political, and interpersonal conflict regarding their relationship with the natural world. For several years, Malta had been at odds with the European Union with regard to their care of the environment and the population is greatly split (not unlike Americans) on what the natural world means to them collectively and individuals. At the same time, Malta has just become the first country in the EU to ban glyphosate, is developing cutting age desalination processes, and has a strong network of NGOs actively working to protect their natural space and heritage.


Debbie Sturm | | Graduate Psychology


Students and faculty will reside at Sundown Court in Kappara, Malta, located close to the University of Malta and easy walking distance to the National Aquatic Complex, grocery shopping, and plenty of restaurants. Sundown Court provides us with 2-bedroom fully-furnished apartments (4 people to each apartment) with kitchens, living rooms, and airy balconies. There are no washer-dryer facilities; however, most people enjoy hanging their clothes to dry on the rooftop clotheslines. Public transportation is easily accessible. The property has two pools and tennis courts as well as a snack bar and restaurant on site. 

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend. All student apartments while we are in Malta have fully equipped kitchens and we are very near several small grocery stores. It is most economical to eat meals at home when possible. We will have several outings in which the program will pay for meals or snacks for students. We will also have several group dinners out or at the director’s apartment. These will all be identified in the program calendar so students have an idea when they will need to purchase their own meals. Many affordable places to eat exist and students are encouraged to seek them out and enjoy! 

Additional Items to Consider

The hotel has limited internet access. Students are encouraged to explore options for internet coverage (ask the director for suggestions) or be willing to experience a little less technology in their lives and also contact their cell phone carrier about international coverage. Many people choose to purchase temporary international phone plans. We don’t want you to have any surprises when you return home.

English is widely spoken in Malta. Very basic Italian may be helpful in Sicily but not necessary.

Students interested in this program should be sure to stop by our booth at the Study Abroad fair or contact the instructor for a brief introduction. There will be 2-3 mandatory meetings during the Spring 2018 semester. This will give us an opportunity to cover some of the material you'll need to do as well as do some trip planning. We will have a class website with all the details available shortly.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5

All majors and class levels are welcome

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ENVT 225: Environmental Advocacy & the Psychology of Change (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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