About SFS

Diversity & Inclusion

SFS was founded with the belief that stewardship of our planet is the responsibility of people all around the world. Addressing complex global issues requires the active inclusion of stakeholders with varying perspectives and identities. We recognize that to successfully address threats to our natural world, we must look beyond social constructs designed to divide us. Just as we value biodiversity in all of its forms, we value and engage with a multitude of diverse perspectives and people in the countries where we work and the students and staff we serve.

SFS strives to cultivate inclusive communities and encourage student cohorts that represent human diversity across the globe. Our programs aim to support every student, including those marginalized or underrepresented as a result of their racial or ethnic identity, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, first-generation college students, and students from all underrepresented groups or underserved communities. We continue to develop strategies to support all students from the time they apply, during their program, and beyond. SFS recognizes that when all students’ voices are valued and heard, confidence in academic ability thrives to the benefit of entire communities.
Solving today's greatest environmental challenges requires that all people have a seat at the table.
During program orientation, SFS staff provide students with information on the local community and culture, including local attitudes toward different beliefs, values, and lifestyles. Students should recognize that, while on-program, they may be challenged by vastly different beliefs and boundaries than they are used to in their home communities.

We encourage students to contact SFS with country-specific questions or if they’d like to discuss their identity abroad. Students may reach out to SFS Admissions or SFS Safety & Student Life for advising.

As you prepare to study with SFS, please ask yourself the following questions to explore your personal identity and how that will impact your time abroad.
  • What do you consider important components of your identity? How do you describe yourself? Think about the aspects of your life that you consider most important and defining.
  • How might aspects of your identity change or evolve while you’re abroad? What might become more or less important, more or less defining, in the context of a new country and culture?
  • What are the attitudes toward someone with your identity in the country you plan to travel to?
  • All countries and communities have cultural values and societal norms that are woven into the fabric of their collective identities. These norms and values are important to these communities whether we agree with them or not. If an aspect of your identity is not accepted in the culture you plan to spend time in, are you okay with that? How will you adjust and cope?

SFS Position and Values

Race & Ethnicity

Supporting students who are underrepresented, underserved, or marginalized as a result of their racial and/or ethnic identity is critical to SFS’ mission and identity. This includes both here in the U.S., at students’ home institutions, and in the countries that students travel to with SFS. Some students have reported that their time abroad has given them an opportunity to think about their identity in a new cultural context; others have reported feeling familiar or new types of discrimination. Very often, both are true and challenging. SFS considers seriously the varied forms of support it can offer, in each stage of a student’s time with us, to create a resource-rich, diverse, inclusive, and equitable experience in which all SFS students belong.

First-Generation College Students

SFS is here to support students who are the first in their families to attend a four-year college or university to attain a bachelor’s degree. We have many resources to help our students fund, plan, and prepare for their study abroad experience, and to help students communicate the importance of study abroad as part of a college career to friends and family.

Gender Identity & LGBTQIA+

SFS welcomes members of the LGBTQIA+ community. While we work diligently to provide an open and safe space on our program campuses, we do ask all students to understand and respect that sexual orientation and identity may be viewed differently within the local community where they are living and studying. Please be aware that country- or region-specific laws or culture may limit individual self-expression while in the local community. SFS strives to offer gender-neutral housing at our Centers. Please contact the Safety and Student Life Department for more information on housing and local community views across our program countries.

Students with Disabilities

Students requesting physical and health accommodations should contact the SFS Safety and Student Life Department. Students requesting learning accommodations should contact the SFS Office of Academic Affairs. SFS will work with students, home schools, and physicians to determine the required level of accommodation and whether or not it can be safely and reasonably maintained on program. While SFS strives to make accommodations for most disabilities, due to the remote nature of our programs, there are varying levels of accessibility, services, and accommodations at each SFS Center.


SFS strives to support students in their religious observance and expression while on-program. It is important for students to research the religious traditions of the host country they plan to travel to, as well as what the local attitudes toward other religions might be. Due to the structured nature of SFS programs and our remote locations around the world, it may not be feasible to accommodate certain observances, dietary needs, and practices.

Diversity Scholarship

SFS was founded with the belief that stewardship of our planet is the responsibility of people around the world and that addressing complex global issues requires the active inclusion of stakeholders with varying perspectives and identities.

Climate change has a disproportionate impact on low-income communities, communities of color, and other vulnerable populations in the U.S. and around the world. In order to address some of the greatest environmental challenges of our time, SFS seeks to train and amplify the voices of students who represent those communities.

In order to be considered for the SFS Diversity Scholarship, please attach a personal statement to your SFS Financial Aid Application explaining how your identity (or identities) shape(s) who you are and your perspective as an environmental steward.

Students from groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in study abroad are encouraged to apply for the SFS Diversity Scholarship. Eligibility includes but is not limited to those who identify as a racial or ethnic minority, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, first-generation college students, students with disabilities, and students from all underrepresented groups or underserved communities.

Read More about SFS Financial Aid