Chancellor's Award Supports New Sustainability Course to Ecuador
Oswego's first recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Internationalization will use the $4,000 prize to support the first offering of a course on sustainability in Ecuador.
Lisa Glidden, assistant professor of political science, was one of five professors around the system to win the awards as SUNY revived a grant program that had seen two rounds of awards in the last decade, the last in 2006. The awards are designed to promote and support the development and implementation of innovative study abroad projects.
The new quarter course, "Crafting Sustainable Communities," will begin in October and feature three weeks in Ecuador in December and January, with one week in the nation's capital, Quito, and two in a rural community. Students will stay with host families to be immersed in Ecuadorian culture.
Glidden and Tim Braun, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Oswego who is also Glidden's husband, will lead the class as students observe and participate in sustainable development projects that address such issues as community health, rights, poverty, economic development and conservation.
The course will aim to advance sustainability efforts in Ecuador, particularly in the small community of San Francisco de Sigsipamba, Glidden said.
"The parish faces threats of deforestation and threats to biodiversity," she said. Students in the course will work with a foundation there that is addressing those concerns, and they will visit another community that potentially offers a model of sustainable development.
"The comparison will allow us to put in conversation two communities who are not currently in a position to learn from one another," Glidden said.
The class should appeal to students in a variety of majors, both in the natural and social sciences, she said. "It's an opportunity for science students to be engaged with the practical applications of what they study," she said, from the importance of biodiversity to protecting watersheds. "It's political science, it's sociology, it's science — biology, zoology, geology," she said.
Glidden's background helped her develop the course. She first traveled to Ecuador as an undergraduate political science and international studies major. As a graduate student, she spent six months with a family there under a U.S. Department of Education fellowship in language and area studies. She has stayed repeatedly with that family and gotten to know one of their relatives who works with an environmental non-governmental organization. All those connections came into play in organizing this course, she said.
The course will be part of a new sustainability track in the global and international studies major and a new minor under development on sustainability.
— Julie Harrison Blissert
Tim Braun, an assistant professor of biological sciences at Oswego, and Lisa Glidden, assistant professor of political science, have developed a sustainability course that will take students to Ecuador.
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