ENVS 207 Linking the Local to the Global


This course examines local environmental challenges in Cuenca, Ecuador and nearby locations. Examples of potential topics include, but are not limited to: gold mining and its effects on water quality, eco-agricultural sustainable food production, corn sovereignty (small production vs. large agro-industrial production), and invasive species of flora and fauna (e.g. introduction of trout in Cajas). Experiential learning will be a significant element of the course and students will regularly visit local communities, NGOs, museums, governmental offices, etc. so that students can learn from those who are most affected by these issues. Additionally, students will observe local community members’ engagement in political activism, artistic expression, and cultural practices that illustrate their experiences with the environment and their efforts to pursue alternative ways of interfacing with the natural world. While each of the environmental challenges mentioned above is present in and around Cuenca, the course explicitly explores links to the broader global context. For example, gold mining has a negative impact on the environment in this region; however, mining has similar effects on various communities around the world, from coal mining in the southeastern United States to cobalt mining in central Africa. The course includes discussions around questions such as: How does the practice affect the environment (land, water, air)? What are the reasons for these environmentally damaging practices? How are these practices affecting local and global communities of people? How are the affected communities employing artistic expression to illustrate their experiences? What alternatives have been suggested or implemented? What are the obstacles to achieving solutions?