SUNY Chancellor’s Award supports Oswego's sustainability course to Ecuador


SUNY Oswego’s first recipient of the State University 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 and Tim Braun.Dr. Lisa Glidden, an assistant professor of political science, was one of five professors around the SUNY system to win the awards as SUNY revived a grant program that had seen two rounds of awards in the last decade. The awards are designed to promote and support the development and implementation of innovative study abroad projects.

The new SUNY Oswego 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 Dr. 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.

Solutions-oriented

More than educational, 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,” she said.

Dr. Joshua McKeown, Oswego’s director of international education and programs, noted that Glidden has been one of the most active faculty members developing study-abroad opportunities for students. “She also developed our faculty-led program to Istanbul, Turkey,” he said, “and she plans a ‘Global City: Havana’ course next year now that Cuba regulations permit short-term programs again.”

He and Glidden said that the biggest obstacles students cite to study overseas are, first, integrating the experience with their major, and second, cost. “This class addresses both of those concerns,” Glidden said.

The class should appeal to students in a variety of majors, both in the natural sciences 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.

The cost of living in Ecuador is much less than in more developed nations, and Glidden will use the SUNY award to make the course even more affordable.

World awareness

Glidden’s background helped her develop the course. She first traveled to Ecuador as an undergraduate in political science and international studies. As a graduate student, she stayed for 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.

Glidden is active on the college’s committee that develops curricular portions of the college’s Climate Action Plan to address global climate change. The new course, which she hopes will be offered every two years or so, will be part of a new sustainability track in the global and international studies major and a new minor under development on sustainability.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Ecuadorian studies—Dr. Tim Braun and Dr. Lisa Glidden of SUNY Oswego’s faculty will lead a class to Ecuador next winter with support from a new SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Internationalization.

(Posted: Apr 13, 2011)

Tags: world awareness, political science, biological sciences, biological science