Dr. Pamela Scheffler of Hawaii Community College Forest TEAM/Environmental Sciences program started the New Year off with an international adventure. Dr. Scheffler traveled to Costa Rica on January 3-13, 2012, as part of a Study Abroad Capacity Building Program grant that she received through the Madison Area Technical College Center for International Education. The grant was made possible with funding from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. This program is designed specifically to expand the capacity of community and technical colleges that do not already have strong programs of study abroad on their campuses. It is also designed to increase participation in study abroad among underrepresented populations and fields of study.
This program brought together a cohort of eight faculty to rural Costa Rica to participate in a 10-day training in Renewable Energy for International Development. This in-country training was followed by a series of workshops on new study abroad program and curriculum development. In turn, these faculty and their supporting institutions will be empowered to develop a new study abroad course in one of the target subject areas (engineering, renewable energy, sustainable development and technical education). Participating institutions will join a consortium to collectively market the new courses and cross-enroll students from partner institutions. The end result will be a network of colleges offering new programs in the areas of renewable energy and sustainable development.
For her first study abroad program, Dr. Scheffler hopes to take a group of students to Honduras in the early summer. They will arrive in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. From there, students will travel to Zamorano University for a 10-day intensive course. Lectures will present various topics related to sustainable tropical agriculture. During their time at Zamorano, the students will participate in three practicum subjects, ranging from Agriculture, Dairy, and Ecosystem Management to Insect Diversity.
At the end of this portion of the course, Dr. Scheffler would like to take the students on a 5-day tour of sustainable Central American agriculture, in Honduras or in a combination of Honduras and Guatemala.
The student learning outcomes for this course will be to:
1. Learn about novel agricultural systems in other parts of the world
2. Learn the importance of sustainable agriculture in a changing world
3. Experience the culture and traditions (agricultural and social) of a different country
4. Recognize similarities and differences in agricultural practices in multiple countries
Dr. Scheffler’s January trip will be followed by a spring workshop in Madison, Wisconsin, for further development work with the Study Abroad Capacity Building Program.