Representative of the West Indies in general, the tri-island nation of Grenada represents a unique learning environment for studying sustainability. The course's intense, field based format introduces students to concepts of sustainability distinct to lesser developed countries (LDCs) while offering practical, hands-on experience with devising and implementing possible solutions to locally-needed research questions and agendas. This may include, among other things, conducting biological transects, performing geographical analyses, constructing surveys, assessing anthropogenic trail impact, and measuring tourist impact on cultural & natural resources—all in an international arena. Course projects are approved in advance by the instructor, and may be part of ongoing studies or studies already in progress. The project will be presented to the class upon return.
Geography & Environmental Sciences
Did you study abroad as a student?
Yes. I participated in THREE undergraduate study abroad programs, all at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. They included the Middle East (Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, & Greece), the UK (England & Scotland), and South America (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Chile, & Bolivia) They are the reasons I now lead study abroad programs. Without participating, I would perhaps never had the desire to run programs of my own. Additionally, study abroad programs represent a superb way to expose students to the "real" world and experience life in ways they never thought possible. I tell students all the time, "You may learn a lot of content on a study abroad, but just as importantly, you'll learn a lot about yourself".
Why should Geography & Environmental Sciences students go abroad?
Because it's a necessity in today's world. Everyone needs to know how everyone else lives, and learn that we are more alike than different. People everywhere want essentially the same things, and yet we continually divide ourselves. Study abroad combats that mental road block, allowing us to gain insights and understandings that help us gain greater appreciation for our fellow beings.
What inspires you about Grenada?
Small, compact, yet LOTS of stuff to do, explore, research, and learn. Plus, it's the Caribbean, so that's kinda nice.
What was the most interesting thing that happened to you in Grenada?
Seeing students become excited at the prospect of learning something new and experience things they never thought possible. In Grenada, I've had students become so attached to the people that they actually cry when they leave. THAT is powerful. I've also had students become aware of how little it can take to be happy. And when that realization hits them, it's powerful, and they recognize it.
What was the weirdest thing that happened to you in Grenada?
Having the Minister of Tourism call me on my cell phone while we were analyzing ocean salinity, to ask what we were doing to make sure it would only put the Island in a good light. I didn't even know she knew me, let alone had my Grenadian cell number.
What is your favorite food from Grenada?
Anything with nutmeg in it: nutmeg ice cream and milkshakes are my most favorite. But Grenada has many things with all sorts of spices (hello, "Isle of Spice")...
What is one thing Americans should know about Grenada?
They speak English. It's still recovering from Hurricane Ivan in 2004, but making progress. Grenadians are some of the most proud and patriotic people I've ever met.
Why do you get excited about the subject matter of Sustainability in West Indies?
Because we get to study EVERYTHING possible about the Grenada. Students learn not just history and politics (by exploring actual sites of recent revolutions), but also about eco-tourism, biology, ecology, geology, and marine science. It's a small enough Island that we CAN do it all.
What do you expect students to learn from your course?
Adaptability, flexibility, and patience. And that fieldwork often changes at a moment's notice and they need to be ready and adapt, be flexible enough to change directions in the middle of something, and have the patience to know that it probably will NOT work out the way you initially thought. That and to learn the importance of "Island Life" attitude.