Spring quarter courses to offer study-abroad experiences

Oswego students explore AmazonMany SUNY Oswego students head south for spring break. A dozen of them went as far as the Brazilian Amazon last semester.

Instead of crowded beaches, the students spent much of their time in a floating classroom as part of Biology 393, “International Environmental Studies: Brazilian Amazonia.”

That study-abroad class will again be one of the quarter courses with global travel offered in the spring by SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Studies and Programs.

The other upper-division offerings this year include Chemistry 401, “Fermentation Science: Belgium,” and two sections of English 395, “Literary Dublin” and “Literary London.” Six Global Studies 100 offerings will focus on weeklong visits to different cities: Berlin, Edinburgh, London, Paris, Rome and Tokyo.

“Today the idea of study abroad needs to include shorter options for students,” said Joshua McKeown, director of study abroad and exchange programs for the college. “The quarter courses give students a short but meaningful faculty-led study-abroad experience of one week, after about seven weeks of on-campus study of the subject.”

Biology Professor Peter Rosenbaum uses the preceding weeks to both teach the students important lessons and cultivate expertise in relevant areas through individual research projects.

“The focus that I’ve given it is environment issues,” Rosenbaum said. “They don’t exist in a vacuum.” He asks each student to become the class expert on topics including biology, current politics, history, culture, sociology or anthropology. By giving an oral presentation, that student educates the rest of the class on the chosen area of expertise.

“Having each of us research a specific area and then present it to the class was an excellent way for us to get a broad overview of all the different aspects and concerns of the rainforest,” senior biology major Whitney Lash said.

Much of the trip to Brazil, which lasts a bit over a week, is spent on the University of Sao Paulo’s floating biology lab touring the Amazon and Rio Negro rivers. The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon region offers abundant species of flora and fauna to study.

Rosenbaum and Brazilian Professor Marcelo Garcia provide lessons, but participating students said they learned just as much through hands-on experiments and field visits to native villages, two zoos, a top museum and sites around the city of Manaus. The course accommodates a dozen students on a rolling application basis.

All study-abroad short courses are open to students of any major. Senior sociology major Jenny Hawley, the only non-biology major in the Amazon experience, said she learned a lot from her classmates as well as teachers. Having an interest in learning new things helped, she said.

“It was absolutely amazing to be on a boat in the middle of the Amazon,” Hawley said. “Seeing exotic animals and interaction with Brazilian natives was also something I will never forget.”

Rosenbaum said the students enjoyed the experience, a sentiment Lash echoed. “I made some really good friends on this trip and am very happy with the group that went,” Lash said. “All in all, this trip was everything I hoped it would be and more.”

By applying themselves and being open to new experiences, students in any of the quarter courses “should expect to be part of a growth experience in which they can make gains in their knowledge of the subject, whether it’s history, biology, literature, chemistry or cultural knowledge,” McKeown said. “Some returning students have described these programs as the most fun they’ve had at Oswego.”

For information, call 312-2118 or visit www.oswego.edu/intled.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Amazon adventure—SUNY Oswego students board boats to explore the flora and fauna of the Amazon as part of last spring’s Biology 393 “International Environmental Studies: Brazilian Amazonia” quarter course. For spring 2006, 10 quarter courses coordinated by Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs will offer a week abroad to experience another culture as part of an eight-week class.

(Posted: Nov 02, 2005)