Program Details

Course description The course and the service work focus mainly on a few small Mayan communities in the Guatemalan Highlands, near the city of Quetzaltenango (Xela). The course also includes visits with community organizations and projects aimed at sust
Location:
Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
Program Type:
Study Abroad
Degree Level:
Undergraduate
Term:
Summer

Program Overview

Program Description:
Guatemala 3 credits can be obtained in INTL or GVPA May 31 - June 8, 2013 Dr. Avrum J. Shriar $1,790 (incl. airfare) + tuition Registration deadline: March 15, 2013 The Global Education Office and the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs are pleased to offer a unique opportunity for students to engage in a service-learning field course to explore environmental issues, political-economic challenges, and sustainability concerns in the context of the developing country of Guatemala. The course involves applied work with rural communities in the Western Highlands region of the country, conducted in conjunction with the Highland Support Project (HSP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is active in the region. Topics and themes examined through the course include land hunger and distribution, social vulnerability, community health, indigenous rights, land degradation, household energy use, common property resource management, agricultural development, and sustainable livelihoods.

Course description The course and the service work focus mainly on a few small Mayan communities in the Guatemalan Highlands, near the city of Quetzaltenango (Xela). The course also includes visits with community organizations and projects aimed at sustainable development, and to sites near Lake Atitlan and the City of Antigua that are of relevance to course themes. Students help build stoves for community households that more effectively channel smoke from cooking fires beyond the home, thereby improving indoor air quality. In addition, the stoves are more fuel-efficient; they therefore decrease the amount of time or money that must be spent obtaining fuelwood and help to reduce deforestation pressure in the region. Students also help with activities aimed at reforesting areas near the communities, such as soil preparation, transplanting and other nursery work, and tree planting. Students will be required to complete a number of readings on Guatemala's history, culture, politics, and other topics covered in the course (e.g. peasant farming systems, soil and water conservation, common property resource management, and natural hazards). Students also are required to attend at least one pre-travel meeting and to complete two papers about topics explored through the readings, fieldwork, and other activities undertaken in Guatemala. Course Objectives Upon completion of the course the student will: Recognize how Guatemala's political, economic, and cultural history has influenced contemporary socio-economic and environmental conditions in the country. Understand, and be able to describe, key challenges commonly faced by Guatemalan communities, such as political repression, land hunger, poverty, environmental hazards, poor (agricultural) market conditions, and threats to water and energy supplies. Understand the ways in which some of these challenges are linked to current macro-scale forces, such as neo-liberal economic policies, globalization, and neo-colonialism. Be familiar with how some of the aforementioned problems are being addressed through community-level activities aimed at economic development and environmental management, and recognize the limitations of, and challenges for, such efforts. Possess improved knowledge, attitudes, and skills for cross-cultural and international work. Service-learning component: Service learning at VCU is a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets community-identified needs. For this course the service will focus on community needs in relation to fuelwood use, reforestation, and agricultural development. In addition to creative and physical work in relation to the latter needs, the students will complete a paper about their service activities, what they learned from them and from other course content, and how it affected their sense of global responsibility.

Setting Description:
The course will include visits to sites near Lake Atitlan and the city of Antigua that are of relevance to the course themes, and to local organizations and projects aimed at sustainable development and human rights. Cultural events, such as exploring a weaving facility, a coffee cooperative, and a Mayan worship site are all experienced on the trip. There are also nightly lectures by Guatemalan academics and indigenous community/environmental leaders. All group presentations will be translated into English. The program will be led by Dr. Avrum J. Shriar. Dr. Shriar is an Associate Professor in the Urban & Regional Studies and Planning programs at VCU. He conducts research in the following related subjects: Rural Development, Farming Systems and Land Use, Natural Resource Management and Conservation, and Cultural and Political Ecology. Most of his work explores the factors contributing to poverty, land degradation, and deforestation in rural regions of developing countries, mainly in L
Cost:
Program cost: $1,790 (incl. airfare) + tuition The program fee includes the following: Roundtrip airfare Accommodations All meals (except those on the last day in Guatemala) Study visits and excursions Ground transportation On-site Program Director support Pre-departure orientation International Student Identity Card VCU administrative fees Application deposit The following are not included in the program fee. Students are responsible for: VCU tuition and fees Any additional meals (including m

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