Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 60.52
Liaison Lindsey MacDonald
Submission Date March 1, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Western Washington University
AC-5: Immersive Experience

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Krista Mantello
Program Supervisor
Education Abroad
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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:

1) Global Health in the Himalayas, India, Nepal.
Global Health in the Himalayas is an intensive two-month field program that encompasses studies in Himalayan culture, health care delivery and public health with opportunities for service learning. A primary focus this year will be on supporting communities that were affected by the devastating earthquake in Nepal. The program will introduce the main concepts of global health, with a particular emphasis on the Himalayan region. It will cover leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the region, local healthcare institutions and services, sanitation and hygiene in remote locations, health vs. disease orientation in health services, social determinants of health, and community self care when services are not available. It will also explore ethical dimensions of practicing medicine and public health in an international context. http://studyabroad.wwu.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=11827
2) Redfish School of Change: Sustainability in the Salish Sea, Canada
The Redfish School of Change: Sustainability in the Salish Sea will bring together nine Canadian and nine American students in a learning experience unlike any other. Join us for an extraordinary six-week field course as we cycle, kayak, boat and walk, visiting the coastal communities of the Salish Sea in British Columbia and Washington State. Explore strategies for creating ecological sustainability and social equity with passionate educators and other inspiring change-makers on both sides of the international border. Then get ready to take effective action in your community. The Redfish School of Change is a fusion of academic and experiential learning. An intensive and demanding program, it will cover course material in three environmental studies courses, each of which has a distinctive theme--Ethnoecology of the Salish Sea, Community-Based Education for Sustainability and Leadership Skills for Community Action. As a participant in the program, you experience wilderness expeditions, leadership initiatives, service learning projects, guest speakers, field research, participatory decision-making, workshops, tours of local initiatives, group discussions and team projects.
3) Applied studies in Mediterranean Sustainable Development, Greece
The program involves both comparative analysis of case study communities in urban Athens and traditional hilltop villages in the Aegean Islands. The course emphasizes studies in sustainable development of traditional Mediterranean Island communities. The course entails daily field investigations emphasizing traditional sustainable community development, urban morphology, migration impacts, and heritage town design. Projects that will be undertaken in 2016 include: Comparative assessment of town morphology as forms of sustainable development; sustainable urban renewal, political expression through urban street art forms; and impacts associated with the migration crisis.
4) Building Cross-Cultural Connections, Guatemala
This 5 week service-learning trip will explore the culture, language, and geography of Guatemala. Service-learning projects will include building houses for local families, teaching language and literacy to primary school children, and volunteering in a clinic for malnourished infants. We will study the language and culture from native Guatemalans. On the weekends we will travel the countryside and meet people from diverse backgrounds, and we will visit a variety of nature wonders.
5) Himalaya Cultures & Ecology: Field Program in Ladakh, India, Nepal.
The program, run in partnership with the Institute for Village Studies, is an intensive field course that encompasses academic studies in Himalayan culture, history, religion, sociology, and ecology, with service learning projects. A primary focus will be on how Himalaya communities respond to critical social and environmental challenges in ways that promote sustainability and wellbeing. The seven-week program includes six weeks in northern India, where we will work on our Artificial Glacier Project with Stongdey Village and assist the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust in their community-based conservation projects. In addition to service learning projects, you will engage in on-site academic seminars, reading, writing, and reflective practice. Upon return to WWU, you will create an action project for positive social change informed by your experience in India. This 12 credit course is designed to enable students to get the most out of their international experience by developing knowledge, skills, values, and their application in an intercultural context.
6) Ecogastronomy and Food Cultures of Italy
This food studies program begins with culinary intensives in Bellingham, then moves to Florence, Italy, where students study the Italian Slow Food movement and sustainable, heritage food cultures. Students also study in the prestigious University of Florence sensory taste sciences department, with the renowned gastronomy scientists, Caterina Dinella and Erminio Monteleone. Italian family home stays, countryside excursions, cultural tours, and hikes.
7) Community Building in Rwanda
The Rwanda service-learning program explores the history and cultures of Rwanda through collaborative, community-based learning. Students and faculty work alongside partners in the village of Gashora, Rwanda to learn about their culture, the challenges and opportunities they face, and their grassroots approaches to community development. Tim Costello, the Center’s director works closely with established Rwanda partners to serve as guides and mentors for student participants. We learn about the local community issues through the people that live there. Prior to travel, students participate in team building and preparatory study on Rwandan history and culture, cross cultural relationship building, and ethical travel and global citizenship. While in Rwanda students engage in service-learning projects, on-site academic seminars, reading, writing, and reflective practice. Upon return students design their own action project for positive social change informed by their experiences in Rwanda.
Eco-Adventure and Cultural Tourism, Costa Rica
This course is a hands-on international ecotourism experience that provides a powerful case study of the relationship between ecotourism and its role in community development. Specifically, students will participate in a variety of adventure and cultural activities illustrating how ecotourism is a useful tool for promoting local economic development, strengthening communities, conserving the environment, and empowering/preserving culture/heritage.
8) Food Cultures, Histories, Activism - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mexico has one of the world’s most accomplished food heritages: corn, tomato, avocado, squash, pinto beans, cacao, and more. In San Miguel de Allende, we study how the state’s rapidly growing economy and affluent expatriate community are shaping a food revolution that rivals that of the Pacific Coast. We’ll experience firsthand how consumer demand is guiding the transformation of one of Mexico’s important breadbaskets into a supplier of locally-sourced food based on Mexico’s diverse culinary histories. Possible field trips to Via Orgánica, Los Senderos, Atotonilco, El Charco de Engenio Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. Service learning at Las Rancheritas with focus on wool production and processing.
9) Education & Social Change Field Program, Thailand, Burma.
The course is an intensive two-month field program in Northern Thailand and Burma, conducted as a collaborative endeavor between WWU and the Institute for Village Studies. The two-month course offers students an in-depth, cross-cultural educational experience among village people in Asia. The theme of education and social change combines academic studies in Southeast Asia culture, history, religion, and politics, with opportunities for service learning and participation in grassroots community development. It seeks to enhance empathy across cultures, heightening awareness of the power of culture and education, and celebrating diversity.
10) CELL: Center for Ecological Living and Learning - Semester in Iceland
Coursework: Sustainability: Secrets of Simplicity; Service Learning: Sustainability through Community
11) CISabroad Intern in New Zealand
Environmental Science Internship: The Senior thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by using primary research methods of an academic discipline. In cooperation with a faculty adviser, skills are developed in synthesizing prior knowledge, formulating a question or hypothesis, gathering new data or identifying existing information, analyzing results and drawing conclusions. The approach may be theoretical, historical, laboratory or field based.
12) EcoQuest New Zealand New Zealand
EcoQuest programs combine rigorous academic pursuit with hands-on learning. EcoQuest students need to be resilient and physically fit: hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling are part of student life; the mountains, oceans, and forests are our classrooms. In these varied environments students learn and apply new skills. Our focus is on teamwork, proactive problem solving, and sustainable management of natural habitats and resources. That is Ecology in Action.
13) Growth International Volunteer Excursions (GIVE), Tanzania.
GIVE is an established leader in sustainable volunteer and adventure travel. We are dedicated to empowering local communities and awakening our volunteers. GIVE is passionate about creating authentic, transformative opportunities for volunteers to help build critical infrastructure in impoverished areas, learn about other cultures, reflect on their own ability to empower marginalized communities, and ultimately become leaders in sustainable development. We continue to empower volunteers and drive social change through post-trip resources and a network of past volunteers. Credit transcripted through Central Washington University as UNIV 304 International Sustainable Development, 5 cr.
14) ISA Melbourne, Australia: Courses with Locals in Multiple Disciplines at University of Melbourne - Academic Year/Semester
Coursework: Food for a Healthy Planet, Going Places - Travelling Smarter
15) Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action, Jordan.
Coursework: Healthcare Systems & Policy, Health, Environment & Community Development, Research Methods & Ethics, Independent Study Project: Modern and Herbal Meicine Use Rationale Among Rural and Urban Jordanians
16) Stony Brook University: Madagascar.
Stony Brook University, a leader in primatology, ecology and evolution and sustainability studies offers an undergraduate Study Abroad program in Madagascar. The program is led by Dr. Patricia Wright, renowned scholar and McArthur Fellow. Student participants may enroll in up to four courses and earn up to fifteen credits. Courses will be offered by resident and visiting scholars of Ornithology, Entomology, Ichthyology, Limnology, Botany, Anthropology, Zoology and Primatology. Students study and conduct research alongside Malagasy and other international students at the research station with guidance from field course instructors. Independent research will contribute to the understanding of the bio-dynamics of the Ranomafana National Park and the linkage between the park and the indigenous population.
17) Costa Rica/Panama Project: Ecosystems and Conservation
We will examine firsthand agroecology, permaculture, and ecotourism projects that promote sustainability. Investigating the question of how human activity can preserve biodiversity, we will assess the conservation prospects of these key projects. We will also spend time in the Kuna Yala indigenous reserve on the Caribbean coast where our focus will shift toward the study of environmental equity and cultural sustainability. Team members will leave this special region with a better understanding of the connection and challenges of economic growth, environmental conservation, and land management, as well as a unique glimpse into the lives of the indigenous peoples and their everyday struggle for equity and sustainability.
18) Ecosystem Conservation, Peru.
Following a transect from the eastern slopes of the southern Peruvian Andes to the Amazonian lowlands, team activities begin at the Wayqecha Biological Station, situated in one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots and home to an exceptional array of Andean habitats, flora, and fauna. Here we join researchers to learn about their work, examine endemic plant and animal species, and study Andean conservation initiatives. Our final stop is a small, privately-managed Brazil nut concession, where we will learn about the southern Peruvian Amazon’s leading, sustainable non-timber forest product, the conservation value of this renewable resource, and the challenges facing sustainable resource extractors.
19) Wildlands Studies: Ecosystems & Cultures, Belize City, Belize.
In Belize, team members will be introduced to key ecological research monitoring techniques including wildlife transect establishment, camera station monitoring, and animal identification. Traveling from mountain to coast, we will examine animal populations in Belize’s principle terrestrial ecosystems (rainforests, coastal mangroves, lagoons, riparian zones) and assess the effectiveness/long-range sustainability of resource management strategies for Belize’s protected nature reserves.
20) Marine Ecosystems, Thailand.
We will study coastal mangrove forests, sea-grass estuaries, low wave-energy beach communities, and fringing coral reefs on outer islands where the waters are crystal clear. We will also explore the impact of local fishing practices: operations that range from small-scale cast nets to large commercial trawlers. In addition, there are shrimp farmers, charcoal collectors, agriculturalists, and tourism developers, making human ecology a second major theme of our program. In some places, appropriate, small-scale harvesting of marine resources offers a sustainable local lifestyle; in other places, human activity is disrupting the environment. And even seemingly tranquil coastal communities are vulnerable to external environmental threats. Our field studies will allow us to view and experience these complex challenges firsthand.
21) Patagonia Ecosystems, Chile.
We will also investigate the effectiveness of key conservation measures such as the establishment of national parks and private reserves, which seek to create sustainable livelihoods for local communities while protecting biodiversity through participation in ongoing conservation, restoration, and sustainable agriculture projects. Highlights will include extended field investigations in Parque Pumalín, one of the largest private nature reserves in the world, and Parque Nacional Chiloé, on the fabled Isla Grande. These are two remarkable natural laboratories with intact forest and wildlife communities. However, despite their protected status and almost impenetrable landscapes, daunting conservation challenges loom, ranging from unsustainable and unregulated resource use by local communities to ambitious multinational development plans including new roads, dams, and salmon farming.
22) The South Africa Project: Oceans, Coasts and Wildlife.
We will examine firsthand how this ancient ecosystem has successfully supported the "Big 5" and mega-herbivores that have roamed the continent for millennia but now face a complex array of conservation conundrums, from habitat fragmentation to poaching. We will encounter contrasting perspectives on “sustainable resource utilization” and discuss how this benefits or impedes the management of threatened and recovering wildlife populations. We may find that many of our preconceived ideas of conservation are challenged.
23) Tropical Reefs and Rainforest, Australia.
As we gain familiarity with these ecosystems, we will carry out our own scientific field assessments with examining species interactions, patterns of diversity, and behavior. We will investigate how geological, ecological and human activity have played a defining role in the evolution, survival, and success of the unique flora and fauna of the Wet Tropics. Additionally, with local community members, as well as land and protected area managers, we will learn how Aboriginal peoples sustained the landscape and their connections and look at how non-Aboriginal approaches to land use, land ownership, and conservation have come in conflict or synergy. We will engage with various stakeholders in an effort to understand their diverse and sometimes contrasting perspectives toward conservation 'best practice'.

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