Avila in Puerto Rico

IS 337 Flyer 02 photoI’m thrilled to announce that for the first time next spring, we will be offering Avila students an interdisciplinary field course in Puerto Rico!

IS 377 Tropical Environments: Diversity, Resistance, and Resilience will spend 12 days on the island in May. I’ll be co-teaching the course with fellow Avila professor and historian extraordinaire, Dr. Kelly Watson. Together, we’ll integrate historical, sociological, and ecological aspects of the tropics in the dynamic and beautiful setting of Puerto Rico. The course will incorporate impacts and recovery from hurricane Maria as well as an in-depth look at Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated territory of the U.S. We will also be engaging in community service and ongoing recovery efforts.

For logistical arrangements, we’re working with professionals at Isla Mar Research Expeditions, who will also give our students an introduction to marine biology and coral reef ecology, including the relationship between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. For our land-locked students from Kansas and Missouri, this will be an especially amazing experience!

While I have spent many years living and working in Latin America, I’ve had very little experience with the Caribbean beyond the coastal towns of Costa Rica and Panama. My first foray into the Caribbean islands was just one year ago, when I had the extraordinary opportunity to visit Cuba as part of an alumni course at Avila. Puerto Rico will be my second island-hopping experience. I’m very much looking forward to sharing this new journey of discovery with our students.

We’re gearing up for spring registration, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we sign up enough students to make this great opportunity available to everyone. Actually, I’m not just keeping my fingers crossed – I’m working hard to get the word out! We’ve had a lot of interest expressed so far,  but we’ll have to see how the numbers play out when registration actually begins.

Keep your fingers crossed, too! If the course fills, I’ll be taking all my blog followers on a virtual tour of Puerto Rico!

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