MHC Launches New Study Abroad Program

Posted: October 9, 2007

Starting in the spring of 2009, Mount Holyoke and Goucher colleges will offer Global-Local Challenges to Sustainability: The Costa Rican Experience, a 15-week interdisciplinary program offered each spring at the Monteverde Institute (MVI) in Monteverde, Costa Rica. As part of the launch of the new program, on October 24 Alan Pounds, resident scientist at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, will be on campus. He will meet with students and faculty and also give a lecture, titled "Where Have All the Frogs Gone?," about global climate change and amphibian extinctions. Pounds's current research investigates causal links between global warming and the disappearance of the golden toad and other species in the Cloud Forest. The lecture will take place in Dwight 101 at 7:30 pm and is free and open to the public.

Monteverde is in the Tilaran mountain range of Costa Rica, 50 miles northwest of San José, the capital. MVI was established in 1988 as a nonprofit educational association by Monteverde residents; it blends international study and applied research with community development assistance to Monteverde area communities. MVI is bordered by the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which offers some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world.

In the spring of 2007, faculty and staff from Mount Holyoke and Goucher spent several days with the Monteverde Institute staff to map out a curriculum that would be educationally most beneficial for our students. The College's McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives spearheaded the effort. The program, which will be open to all students, emphasizes place-based learning, examining not only the theoretical underpinnings of sustainability, but also how these theories play out with real people, organizations, and localities. The curriculum will consist of four courses: Spanish Language and Culture, Environmental Sustainability, Development and Social Change in Costa Rica, and applied research. In their independent research, students can opt for a social science track or a tropical ecology track. Students will take numerous field trips and also travel to Nicaragua. A faculty member from Mount Holyoke or Goucher will serve as resident director.

"This program provides an incredible opportunity for students to study the challenges to sustainable development in a concrete local setting, while being immersed in a different culture, advancing their Spanish, and conducting research that is informed by the needs of the community," said Eva Paus, Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center. "Monteverde's beauty and exceptional biodiversity are an added attraction."

Related Link:

McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives

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