When Jeffrey Caston studied abroad in Scandinavia, he revered the host cultures he encountered in ways that helped shape his professional aspirations.
The CU-Boulder senior in geography studied for a semester in Uppsala, Sweden and a semester in Copenhagen, Denmark during the 2012-13 school year.
The experience solidified his interests in sustainable development, bicycle infrastructure and creative uses of public space.
“I think exploring Copenhagen was so meaningful for me because it was my first exposure to a bicycle city,” said Caston. “About 38 percent of people there bike to work including the prince of Denmark.”
While in Scandinavia, Caston studied everything from urban infrastructures to endangered lichen species.
Caston’s carved out a wide variety of academic and outreach opportunities abroad and at CU-Boulder, many focusing on sustainability and social justice.
He sought out an opportunity with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research to study deforestation caused by cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest.
Caston was part of The Second Kitchen, a student founded co-op in Boulder that builds community around locally sourced and organic food.
He was involved with the CU Environmental Center in a project to place educational solar installations on campus. Currently Caston is a co-director of the Communikey Student Alliance, the student chapter of a Boulder organization that facilitates cultural experiences that emphasize the intersection of sound, design and technology in underrepresented artistic forms.
“What I admire about Jeffrey is that he’s found so many different ways to get involved in his studies focusing on sustainability and make the most of his experiences,” said Cindy Kraft, CU-Boulder assistant director of study abroad programs.
Caston is CU-Boulder’s 2013 study abroad student of the year. The distinction is part of the Office of International Education’s Global Citizen Awards, which are celebrated annually during International Education Week.
Caston says engagement is the key to his success. It’s an act that comes naturally to him, and one that he recommends to other students.
“Do research outside of the classroom and attend events because you never know what might happen,” said Caston. “That’s how I met people, that’s how I made connections, and engaging myself like that is probably what’s going to get me a job after I graduate.”
In his final academic year as an undergrad at CU-Boulder, Caston is collaborating on a project between creative partners in Denver and Copenhagen in effort to strengthen cultural, entrepreneurial and urban development strategies by working together. The project is slated to begin in January 2014.
After graduation, Caston hopes to land again in Copenhagen, but says regardless of where he ends up, he’ll seek work that improves the quality of life in cities through bicycle urbanism and other concepts to enhance public spaces.