The UW Community-Based Learning and Sustainable Food Systems in Guatemala program is led by Dr. Claudia Irene Calderon. It is located in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala and runs for two weeks from mid to late May. Students can earn two credits of Horticulture 375 or two credits of Nutritional Science 421, and is approved as a Community-Based Learning course by the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
Deadline: December 1, 2017.
Dr. Claudia Irene Calderon received a $25,000 grant from the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to develop this program.
1) Why did you choose to develop the new program in Guatemala?
Being from Guatemala, I have connections with key partners (universities and local organizations) that will facilitate meaningful and enriching experiences for UW undergraduate students who decide to participate in this program.
2) What does the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund do?
100,000 Strong in the Americas, is a signature education initiative in the Western Hemisphere, whose goal is to increase the annual number of U.S. students studying in other countries of the Hemisphere to 100,000, and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020. This program also helps to create sustainable partnerships among universities in the United States and the rest of Western Hemisphere to implement new student exchange and training programs.
3) What makes this field experience different from other field experiences?
This field experience will combine four elements that make it unique to the current portfolio of field experiences.
First, the location. There are no current programs in Guatemala offered by IAP or CALS. Guatemala is referred to as the “Country of the eternal spring” with average temperatures in the 70s year round.
Second, it will be to my knowledge the only bilateral field experience. We will welcome in Madison at least 5 Guatemalan students who will receive a reciprocal experience to that of the UW students who will travel to Guatemala.
Third, the type of non-traditional academic experience offered. Depending on the structure of the study abroad program, students can have a more or less active role in their field experience, particularly in terms of interactions with the local communities. Based on feedback I’ve received from another field study I lead in Costa Rica (Tropical Horticultural Systems), I have found that some students are looking for ways to interact more meaningfully with local communities. That is why I designed a community-based learning course that will allow students to engage both in Madison and in Guatemala, with local partners designing and creating community and school gardens. This course will allow students the opportunity to acquire and apply cross-disciplinary expertise needed to address critical issues pertaining to tropical horticulture such as: food security, food systems, sustainability, resilience to climate change, global health, culture, and land ethics. I am grateful to the Morgridge Center for Public Service for supporting the development of the service-learning portion of the course.
Lastly, the program will allow a unique opportunity for UW students to learn about indigenous peoples and the rich multicultural and multilingual heritage of Guatemala. More than half of the population in Guatemala is indigenous, with 20 different languages spoken, with Spanish being predominant. Students will learn about “Cosmovision” a term in Spanish that refers to the particular way of Meso-American peoples to view the world and understand the universe. This is particularly important to guide students’ experiences towards the UW-Madison Essential Learning Outcomes, particularly: knowledge of human cultures and the natural world, intellectual and practical skills of teamwork and problem solving, and personal and social responsibility.