Overall Rating Bronze - expired
Overall Score 32.00
Liaison Kevin Moran
Submission Date May 22, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Drake University
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00
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Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that is one week or more in length?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution, including how each program addresses the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of sustainability:

There are several 3-week travel seminar programs (J-terms) offered to Drake students:

ENS International Environmental J-term Seminars: The International Environmental Seminar enables students to gain an appreciation of the ecological and social aspects of environmental issues through an intense immersion experience in a developing country. Students will explore aspects of sustainable development and environmental justice within a specific national context. In general, discussion topics will include tropical ecology, the politics of land use, the effects of conflict on environmental systems, and the interaction between economic development and sustainability.

Belize: International Environmental Seminar: Poverty, Development and Conservation - The Drake Belize seminar was a service-learning focused seminar investigating the interactions between conservation, economic development, and indigenous rights. Due to its size, history of conservation, and the predominance of English, Belize is an ideal country to explore these sometimes mutually reinforcing, sometimes conflicting goals, especially after many students have been introduced to the country in our Casa Analysis course. We helped with a long-term reforestation project in the indigenous village of San Pedro, spent several days working in a school and on other projects in the coastal village of Monkey River, and performed climate survey work for our partners in Punta Gorda (the capital of the southern district of Toledo), and worked on a population count of the endangered yellow-headed parrot in Payne’s Creek National Park. We also had opportunities to snorkel, jump off of some tropical waterfalls, visit Mayan archaeological sites (including a remote cave), zipline, tour a couple of experimental agroforestry projects, hike, drum, and sing a little karaoke.

Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: International Environmental Seminar: Conservation, Sustainable Development, and Tourism - The course examines issues of sustainable development and interactions between tourism, the natural environment, and economic development. Students have the opportunity to speak with individuals from numerous backgrounds in country, and to gain an appreciation for the issues that are very difficult to convey in the classroom. There is also a service learning component that includes habitat restoration in an area that Drake has been working in since 2013, and it is very interesting to return and be able to show the effects of our work. Finally, students learn a lot about Ecuadorian politics and culture in their homestays.

Rwanda: International Environmental Seminar: Ecotourism, Conservation, and Development in Post-Genocide Rwanda - This course will help students develop an understanding of Rwanda's growth and development since the genocide, with a focus on how sustainability and environmental protection has been one of the central principles in that process. We will begin with an examination of contemporary Rwanda, including consideration of the 1994 genocide as the touchstone event for everything in this country. We will then use the national parks as case studies, including Akagera (privately managed, and in a different type of ecosystem than the others), Volcanoes (with a very narrow focus on the gorillas, which are a source of hard currency to fund conservation efforts), Nyungwe (a traditional management model, relatively highly developed, in a rainforest ecology), and Gishwati (a new national park and also a reforestation and reclamation project with a significant community engagement component, which is still evolving). We will use Rwanda’s four national parks to study the intersections between conservation, development, and tourism in the context of a history of conflict, extreme poverty, and rapid social change. Rwanda since the 1994 genocide is an amazing renaissance story, and we will travel the country to observe firsthand. Rwanda’s national parks reflect its ecological diversity: Akagera is in a savanna ecosystem and is privately managed; Volcanoes have a narrow focus on the mountain gorillas, which bring in foreign currency to fund conservation; Nyungwe is an undisturbed rainforest ecology; and Gishwati (where instructor has worked since 2011) is a new park, a reforestation, and reclamation project with a significant community engagement component. We will spend time exploring each of these extraordinary natural resource sites; their management and cultural context will serve as the framework for our examination of the many interconnected issues.

Uganda: Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa - This travel seminar is designed to introduce students to the challenges faced by African countries as they become increasingly integrated into a global world. Students attending Makerere University Business School (MUBS) join Drake University students for three weeks in Uganda. Students will critically assess the challenges faced by the citizens in Uganda while the country attempts to achieve sustainable economic development. The course includes a significant service-learning component and students have the opportunity to work with faculty to design a tailored experience based upon their area of interest.

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