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Enhancing Learning Through Application of Knowledge in a Tropical Conservation and Development Program

Faced with a biodiversity crisis of mass extinction and the prospects of global warming, society has to find the means to conserve natural resources while at the same time helping people leave their condition of desperate poverty. It is generally accepted that solutions have to be interdisciplinary in nature. Expertise from the business sector, applied ecology, geology, and environmental philosophy - to name a few fields - has to combine to draw up a coherent vision and implement effective conservation and development programs.

Millsaps College is ideally suited to train the next generation of problem solvers for these giant tasks ahead. A Tropical Conservation and Development Program can build on already existing strengths of a liberal arts and sciences college with courses being taught in many countries of the world countries that include tropical ecosystems (Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Vietnam, Cambodia, Tanzania, China). The semester in the Yucatan experience and other courses offered at the facilities in Merida, Oxkutzcab, and Kaxil Kiuic are especially noteworthy in this context.

Because conservation and development are applied endeavors, students can gain a deeper understanding of the difficulties associated with translating ideas to real life situations. Learning outcomes can be evaluated based on ascertaining changes in attitudes and awareness (especially towards the third world), tests on the newly acquired knowledge, and essays on the practical experience of problem solving and application of critical thinking. This program could be expanded to include any other region in the world, but especially the state of Mississippi.

I do not foresee major problems with the proposed program as it would heavily build on existing resources.

Contact person:  Markus P. Tellkamp

For a PDF of the proposal, click here.

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