Today's major environmental problems often have impacts on a global scale. The notion of global environment, one planet shared by all human beings, is increasingly powerful. Some claim that with globalization, environmental concerns cannot be understood from a strictly regional perspective. Others warn against the "insidious consequences of westernization" as globalism is being promoted. Central roles of universities are to foster new ideas and provide critical thinking in order to have informed citizens. Thus, universities should play a major role in general education. The program presented here attempts to achieve a specific educational goal. We, as North American citizens, view the environmental "problems" of the world through our western eyes. People from other countries will have a very different assessment of important environmental issues. By bringing our students in contact with another reality, we will help them build a new, more pluralist vision of the world's environment. Hopefully, we will help them play a positive role in tomorrow's society.
Enrolment will be limited to 22 McGill students due to housing capacity.
The courses in the program are also being made available to three or four Panamanian students from local public universities. Courses are taught in English, however, Spanish is essential for communicating while in Panama.
Upon arrival in Panama, there is a one to two-day transition period followed by 13 weeks of courses. Field trips are integrated into each of the courses offered. The lecture courses each consist of contact hours organized over a four-week period as follows:
- At least 8 hours per week of lectures;
- At least 10 hours per week in the field or laboratory.
Students are expected to devote two days per week to their internship. Students are also expected to give one oral presentation to their peers, as well as a formal presentation of their projects at an internship symposium with representatives from the host organizations.
For information on travel and tropical medicine, please refer to: CATMAT
This teaching program brings together students and professors with different backgrounds/interests. It provides a unique opportunity to experience the challenges of achieving transdisciplinarity in order to understand real environmental problems. Whether in preparation for graduate school or for employment purposes, involvement in this program will assist any participating student in future work related to tropical environments. Understanding of and acclimation to an environment as different as Canada to the Panamanian ecosystem is difficult. In situ experience will greatly improve performance of our graduates in their future undertakings.