UNM Summer Field Courses in Sustainability

Biocultural Diversity and Social Justice in Ecuador - 2013

The University of New Mexico Latin American and Iberian Institute offers a new study abroad opportunity in biology, culture, and language study in Quito, Ecuador. The program offers students up to seven semester hours of credit and features a three-day orientation session at UNM, a three-week field experience in Ecuador, and three days of closing seminars at UNM upon return.

Based on human rights and natural rights of Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, the new constitution of Ecuador, Chapter Two, Article 395 affirms that "The State shall guarantee a sustainable model of development, one that is environmentally balanced and respectful of cultural diversity, conserves biodiversity and the natural regeneration capacity of ecosystems, and ensures meeting the needs of present and future generations."

With more than 5000 endemic species, Ecuador is one of the most mega-biodiverse nations on the planet. It is also one of the least developed countries in Latin America. Its leaders and citizens are torn between the obligations to preserve nature and provide for human needs. The curse of oil has skewed its economy and ruined vast tracts of Amazonian forests, but a fascinating and innovative "post-petroleum" era is dawning.

Ecuador lies in Chinchay Suyu, the northwest quadrant of Tahuantin Suyu, the Incan empire of the four directions. The natural and cultural histories of Ecuador are deeply intertwined and illustrate the idea that biological and cultural diversity support and sustain each other.

Applications are due in February for the 2013 program. There will be an info session held at 3:30pm in Ortega Hall Reading Room 335 on January 23. For more information please contact Sam Johnson at sgjohnso@unm.edu or check out the wiki.

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Sustainable Development in Central America: Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in Nicaragua - 2013

The UNM Department of Economics and the Latin American Iberian Institute sponsor a summer course on economic development in Nicaragua. The Sustainable Development in Central America program explores the economics of development in Nicaragua, and takes a hands-on approach to understand failed development, poverty, and the deep social inequalities that affect the world. Most importantly, the students will discuss solutions to these social problems. Participants will visit coffee coops, microfinance organizations, urban slums and meet with community organizers.

The class initially meets at UNM campus 6 times in March and April. These meetings will lay the foundations for the course, we will develop the theoretical framework of Economic Development, we will go over assigned readings, and get organized for the trip. Immediately after the end of the Spring semester, we will travel to Nicaragua from May 13 to June 7th, for a hands-on experience in Development.

Applications are due on February 15 for the 2013 program. Contact Matias Fontenla, Assistant Professor of Economics, for more information.

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UNM Foodshed Field School - New Mexico

During 2011 and 2012, the UNM Sustainability Studies Program - with funding from a USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions grant - offered a month-long summer Foodshed Field School based in New Mexico. The field school focused on how to build and maintain a diverse and thriving foodshed in the state. Through both classroom learning and field experience, students identified and invent novel career paths that support the local food network. Check out the blog to learn more.

Contact Terry Horger, Sustainability Studies Program Administrator, for more information.

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Sustainable Economic Development in India

The UNM Research Service Learning Program has offered an 8-week study abroad summer program focusing on sustainable economic development in India. The UNM India program included three intensive classes (GEOG 352/491/591 Global Climate Change, C&J 490/593 The Indian Context, and SUST 402*/CRP 429/551 Sustainable Economic Development) as well as hand-on field work in southwest India. The following topics were covered during the program:

  • Agroforestry
  • Rural Development Economics
  • Community-Based Planning
  • Climate Change
  • Gender Issues
  • Rapid Assessment Methods
  • Water Resource Management
  • Microfinance
  • Permaculture Techniques

Contact Dan Young, Director of the Research Service Learning Program for more information.

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The Power of the Sun - Study Abroad in Germany

The UNM International Studies Institute offered The Power of the Sun, a month-long study abroad program in Schloss Dyck, Germany. This summer session explored how solar power can be used for producing electricity and for planning/architectural design through a combination of classroom instruction (ECE 495/595, SUST 402 Photovoltaics – Devices and Systems, and ARCH 462/662, SOC 398 Communal Concerns – Housing and Photovoltaic Assets) and field trips. The course was taught by faculty in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Program and the School of Architecture and Planning. Schloss Dyck is the ideal location as Germany is one of the world’s top photovoltaics (PV) installers. The country is also at the forefront of buildings with PV integrated designs. Historical practices suggest that sustainable solutions – concerns of communal issues of space – have long been part of larger ideals that have shaped German building culture. There are now well over 250,000 jobs in Germany’s renewable energy sector, and jobs in solar power are expected to surge as the country prepares to close all its nuclear power plants by 2022. The program focused on the planning, design, integration, and evaluation of PV systems in larger buildings, smaller individual residences, and larger utility-scale solar farms. Students explored several small and large-scale solar installations in Germany, visited PV equipment manufacturers, and met with industry leaders.

For more information contact Kathryn Padilla at 505-277-3133 or katpad@unm.edu. 

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Himalayan Study Abroad Program on Environment and Society

The UNM Nepal Study Center has offered a two-week Environment and Society Himalayan Study Abroad Program. The program, in partnership with the Kathmandu University, is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of pollution, biology, sustainable development, health, and the cultural significance of two river systems - the Bagmati River in Nepal and the Rio Grande of New Mexico. The program begins with a one semester course at UNM (ECON 203 Environment and Society) and culminates with a two-week long field experience in Nepal to learn first-hand about the Bagmati River basin in Kathmandu valley. The Kathmandu program focuses on various aspects of the life of the Bagmati River in Nepal, and includes field visits, hands-on community projects and lectures from Kathmandu University faculty.

Topics covered include:

  • Environment and conservation
  • Arts, culture, myths, and legends
  • Sustainable development
  • Environment and health
  • Sustainable technologies to promote environmental conservation
  • Community participation and grass-roots organizations

Contact either Alok Bohara, Professor of Economics, or Jennifer Thacher, Associate Professor of Economics, for more information.