Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.74
Liaison Kathleen Crawford
Submission Date July 28, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Florida Gulf Coast University
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Katie Leone
Sustainability Coordinator
Environmental Health & Safety
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution offer at least one immersive, sustainability-focused educational study program that meets the criteria for this credit?:

A brief description of the sustainability-focused immersive program(s) offered by the institution:

FGCU offers sustainability-focused immerse programs through Faculty-Led study abroad courses, the first-year Leadership through Service Live-Learn Community, and the Office of Student Involvement's Registered Student Organization programs.

Faculty-Led Study Abroad:
Over half of the study abroad experiences at FGCU include sustainability. A list of the sustainability courses offered during the 2013-14 Fall and Spring Terms are as follows:

Hungary Education Internships
The Hungarian Student Teaching Exchange Program is a component of the College of Education's Integrated Field Experience and/or the Final Internship experience courses. It is a cultural student teaching exchange where a select group of education students spend 2-3 weeks student teaching in Hungarian Schools.
While in Hungary FGCU students will teach in English Immersion classrooms which reflect their area of certification and major area of study. This experience will fulfill the criteria for ESOL Endorsement established by the State of Florida. Larger purposes include: to motivate a global vision, to compare educational systems, to develop awareness of how language impacts every facet of life and education, to connect global communities through the use of literacy, technology and the arts. While in Hungary FGCU interns will teach in the Laboratory School associated with Szent Istvan's University, speak at local civic clubs, libraries, churches and public schools, and meet with local Mayors and representatives of the European Union. Participants will be conducting English and Cultural workshops for Education Students at Szent Istvan's University. Prior to leaving for Hungary, participants will teach cultural lessons in area schools. Participants will use technology to connect global classrooms in an effort to expand the world view of all students involved.

Singapore Sustainability
Honors Program research trip to Singapore. Emphasis on economic development and sustainability.

Bahamas Tropical Island Biology
This course is an intense immersion experience designed to provide a broad overview of the biology and ecology of tropical islands, using San Salvador as a model of the Carribean basin. The course emphasizes experiential collaborative learning through lecture, laboratory, field activities, and group projects. Additionally students are introduced to the culture and history, as well as the current environmental and socioeconomic issues of the population on San Salvador. There are also collaborative research opportunities for students and faculty through the development of independent research projects.

Bahamas Environmental Change
As human beings, we are intimately connected to the geologic processes that shape the planet, define ecosystems, and provide resources essential to life. These processes impact the way that we live, while at the same time we have developed the capacity to alter Earth systems to the point that environmental conditions are influenced on a global scale. In no way is this capacity more obvious than with the global climate change we are currently experiencing, and the Bahamas provides an ideal setting in which to investigate this relationship. This course is designed to provide students in the sciences and education with an in-depth overview of the dynamic nature of geologic systems within tropical carbonate settings, particularly as they relate to climate change. Students will be introduced to fundamental concepts and methods from the earth sciences to investigate a range of topics related to climate change including sea-level rise, tropical storms, freshwater resources, and coastal processes. The course will investigate both the natural environment and the human environment and the relationship between the two. Students will characterize the sedimentology and biota of many modern tropical carbonate environments (e.g., reefs, lagoons, tidal flats, hypersaline lakes, beaches, and dunes) and compare them to ancient environments that existed during the Pleistocene and Holocene Epochs (last 500,000 years), as expressed with the carbonate rocks on San Salvador. The sedimentology, paleontology, and stratigraphy of these rocks will be investigated and the history of environmental change will be interpreted. In addition, students will investigate the interaction between the natural and human environments. Students from the sciences (Marine Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Science, and Biology) will be joined by students in Education and in-service teachers. The intention is to connect with educators to both provide curricular training in this area and opportunities for curriculum development for their teaching at home. While science students will undertake a capstone science-based investigation, students from education will undertake related STEM education capstone projects that interface with their disciplinary interests. Both groups of students, however, will work collaboratively to achieve their goals. The course is both field and lab intensive. During the 2-week stay in San Salvador up to 8 hours per day will be spent in the field and laboratory settings for a 6-day work week. Students should be in good physical shape, be able to swim, and it would be helpful if they have some training snorkeling. The weather on San Salvador in early summer is fairly warm and humid. In addition, biting insects can be prolific. Students should be able to withstand these kinds of hardships while working outside. The Gerace Research Centre provides comfortable housing in a dormitory setting. Food service is provided.

Ghana Social Work
Students will have classroom lectures for 2 weeks on campus at FGCU before traveling to Ghana, 2 weeks in Ghana learning from NGOs, cultural excursions to the capital, natural rainforest, slave trade historical sights, return to campus for 1.5 weeks classroom reflection, assignments and lectures. Ghana is located in the western region of Africa, primary language spoken is English, currently HIV/AIDS prevalence was at 1.3% in 2012 and is highest in the eastern region of Ghana and lowest in the northern regions of the country. This course will explore the implications of the virus on children, women, and families. Issues of human trafficking, human rights, poverty (environmental sustainability) and social justice will be examined and discussed. This class is open to undergraduate and graduate students.

Leadership through Service Live-Learn Community:
“Leadership through Service” is a Live-Learn Community (LLC) on Florida Gulf Coast University’s campus. The underlying principle of Live-Learn Communities (LLC) at FGCU is the integration of academic learning, co-curricular experiences, and community living. Our unique Live-Learn Community, “Leadership through Service,” focuses on the intersection between serving others and assuming leadership in our communities with a special focus on issues of social and economic justice, sustainable food practices, intergenerational learning and leadership, and values, ethics, and morals.

Combining academic coursework, a shared residential experience, and a variety of co-curricular programming opportunities, our “Leadership through Service” community offers students the opportunity to work with various community partners to create an intergenerational events focused on solving problems at a higher structural level. At the heart of this community is the recognition that because we are all members of a larger social community we must consider social issues and problems to be partly our own responsibility. In this way, the FGCU students involved in the LLC also develop their own social awareness and leadership skills through learning how to interact with, support, and enhance their community.

For more information on “Leadership through Service” please refer to the following link: http://www.fgcu.edu/Housing/prospective/leadership-through-service-community.html

Student Involvement's Registered Student Organization programs:

-Global Medical Brigades Nicaragua Medical/Public Health Brigade Trip – The mission of the trip was to establish a temporary medical clinic working with Global Brigades staff and community members to provide health care to a rural community in Panama that would typically not have access to health care services. Additionally, this year the volunteers helped to build infrastructure within the community to increase the level of public health. 15 FGCU students attended along with 2 FGCU staff members traveled from May 11th – May 18th, 2014. More information on this Registered Student Organization can be found here: https://fgcu.collegiatelink.net/organization/globalmedicalbrigades/about.

-DROP (Dominican Republic Outreach Program traveled during Spring break for their annual service trip. The Dominican Republic Outreach Program (D.R.O.P.) is a student-run organization at FGCU. The club’s mission is to promote the idea of global citizenship, stress the importance of community engagement, and foster a sense of civic responsibility, both locally and abroad. D.R.O.P. does this through a group of dedicated students who fundraise throughout the year for school supplies, athletic equipment, and monetary donations. Then, during a once-a-year alternative Spring Break, a group of D.R.O.P.’s members travel to the Dominican Republic to deliver those supplies to the underprivileged youth with the help of a Santiago-based outreach organization, Acción Callejera.

-Engineers Without Borders FGCU Chapter – The student chapter shares its mission with the national organization Engineers Without Borders-USA. It works with local partners to design and implement sustainable engineering projects in local and foreign environments. This year they adopted the La Pradera Del Quetzal Schoolhouse project in Guatemala. Their goal is to make our first trip to Guatemala in late August. Additionally they also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to build a home.

FGCU Food Foresters - The Food Forest is a student-run botanical garden which highlights tropical/subtropical edible species that grow well in South Florida. The purpose of this garden is to provide the student body with the opportunity to learn about different types of edible and useful species from all over the world that can be grown in South Florida. This semester the organization held a series titled “Multifunctional Carbon Sequestering Agroforestry Lecture Series with Eric Toensmier” to examine the role that carbon-sequestering agricultural practices have in providing solutions to a wide array of environmental problems including climate change, environmental injustice, land degradation and more.

Europe, France, and Spain Hospitality Trip - Two week study abroad trip with several sustainability related field trips focusing on agro-tourism and local ingredients.

Mulloch Creek Restoration Initiative - Hundreds of service learning hours have been acquired by FGCU students working on the Mulloch Creek Restoration Initiative, research and restoration that has been ongoing since 2006. Students from Colloquium classes have helped conduct 2 phases of habitat restoration by removed invasive exotic plants on a steep canal along the drainage district, replanting with native plants, conducting ongoing maintenance of that work, and installing and maintaining a Florida Friendly yard at the Drew House in San Carlos Park. The project is ongoing, with more classes and aspects added over time.

Costa Rica - In May of 2013, Kris De Welde, Sociology and Undergraduate Studies, and Sasha Wohlpart, Marne and Ecological Sciences, led an interdisciplinary, service-based study abroad experience to Rancho Margot, a self-sufficient ranch in the Arenal region of Costa Rica, dedicated to environmental sustainability. The course, titled, “Exploring Place: Food, Ecology and Sustainability,” was designed to introduce students to sustainable living in relation to food, energy, waste, and consumption. Integral to the experience were the service activities, totaling 47 hours per student, that engaged the students in the overall operations of the ranch and included care for the livestock (pigs, chickens, cattle, goats), maintenance of the hydropower system, gardening, and the production of food products such as milk and cheese.

Ghana Sea Turtle and Environmental - Biannually, since 2010, a diverse group of 12 to 15 Florida Gulf Coast University students have traveled to Ghana, West Africa, in the hopes of uncovering new sea turtle and primate research. This cultural exploration started merely as a melting pot of ideas between two professors, Phil Allman and Alison Elgart. Throughout the years, it has expanded into an extensive research program at FGCU.
For a month, the students and professors leave behind the American way of life and venture into uncharted Ghanaian territory to expand their cultural worldview. They discover not only new research but find deep connections to their soul.

Interdisciplinary Student Research in Argentina - This program involved students from FGCU and the University of Buenos Aires. Students were required to ask interdisciplinary research questions regarding environmental, economic and social sustainability issues of the wetlands of the methodologies needed to conduct their field research successfully. Students worked with local community members and the local extension agency to refine and conduct research to answer their questions. The goal was to construct new transdisciplinary, applied knowledge and to advocate for appropriate sustainable practices by partnering with local community members.
This model was a more realistic and effective way of teaching how environmental science proceeds in the “real world.” Faculty were not teaching “the answers” to problems, and this forced students to become critical thinkers and find answers to their own questions. Students echoed this same sentiment at the conclusion of the program. Faculty and students agreed that their knowledge, perspectives and experiences were broadened from this experience. Students and faculty alike learned the importance of listening to all of the stakeholders involved in environmental issues to develop more effective sustainable solutions.

The website URL where information about the immersive program(s) is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.