The Danube River and its delta runs for 1,800 miles through 10 countries, including Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. Heavily polluted when neighboring countries were industrializing under Soviet rule, the area began to recover in the 1990s. Today, new environmental risks like pesticides, micro-plastics and industrial waste are threatening the delta’s delicate sustainability once again. For 24 college students, the Danube Delta served as both a classroom and field laboratory for two weeks over the summer.
The students — selected from Penn State and nations throughout the European Union (E.U.) — were in Romania as part of the Penn State Connecting Humans and Nature Through Conservation Experiences (CHANCE) Program. CHANCE consists of two elements — international online and field courses — with a core pedagogical approach that blends real-world, environmental research with conservation efforts.