Courses: Spring 2013


Semester Orientation Program

Facilitator: BCA Study Abroad Resident Director, Daniel Bryan             
Language of instruction: English
Credits: None. This is a required component of the program without credits.

1. Biodiversity, Conservation & Sustainability in the Amazon

Course code: TBA
Instructor: TBA
Language of instruction: English
Credits: 4 semester hours

Course description forthcoming

2. Sustainable Community Development

Course code: TBA
Instructor: TBA
Language of instruction: English
Credits: 4 semester hours

There is no single definition of sustainable community development because every community has its own unique characteristics and challenges. Each community must develop its own vision and plan of action. Yet sustainable communities share common themes and concerns: economic security, social justice, environmental protection and restoration, and a commitment to the welfare of future generations.  Strengthening a community’s capacity for sustainable community development is like weaving a web that creates a social network throughout the community, extending and strengthening cooperation and collaboration among people, institutions, and organizations. Even if it starts small, the network expands and incorporates more and more stakeholders. The network increases community cohesion and resilience through innovative partnerships, increased collaboration, and a shared vision of the future.

In this course, students will explore the principles and practices of sustainable community development, and discuss how to develop, foster, and implement strategies for sustainable development in their own communities.  Students will be evaluated based on classroom and field participation, oral reports, and a final paper.

Among the broad academic topics addressed in this course are the following:

  • What are common themes of sustainable community development?
  • An exploration of the concept of social capital
  • A discussion of qualitative and quantitative metrics of sustainable community development
  • Case studies and strategies for sustainable community development

Among the readings are sections from the following texts:

  • The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet,
  • Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard
  • Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World by Paul Hawken
  • Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model by Ray Anderson
  • Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben
  • Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantially Revised) by Lester R. Brown

3. Creativity and Sustainability

Course code: TBA
Instructor: Daniel Bryan, BCA Resident Director
Language of instruction: Spanish and English
Credits: 4 semester hours

The BCA Upper Amazon program focuses on the notion that sustainability can only be achieved through human action and creative problem solving, taking into consideration the diversity of needs from both the local and global perspectives.  The idea of this course is to apply what students have learned in the previous two courses to a creative, cross-cultural project.  Working with local indigenous students, this bilingual course, combining English and Spanish, explores the concept of creativity and asks students of both cultures to work together and overcome a hypothetical assigned problem in a manner that truly impacts a given population.  Focus is placed on real life situations, cross-cultural conflicts and communication barriers.  Students must work through these obstacles toward common ground and find a way to impact others in a creative, experiential manner.  The course culminates with students’ group presentations. Assessment and grading is based on the quality of classroom and field participation, a daily journal of observations/reflections and the final creative presentation.

Among the broad academic topics addressed in this course are the following:

  • What is creativity and how does it apply to sustainability?
  • Creative expression and communication
  • Creative Praxis – combating oppression through creative reflection and action
  • Creativity in a multicultural context
  • Creative community response

Among the readings for this course are sections from the following texts:

  • The Aesthetics of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal
  • Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity as Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi by Howard Gardner
  • Sustainability: A New Frontier for the Arts and Culture by Sacha Kagan
  • Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Nature Principle by Richard Louv
  • Creativity: Theory, History, Practice by Rob Pope
  • Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
  • Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine Benyus

4. Semester Course: Spanish Language

Course code: TBA
Instructor: TBA
Language of instruction: Spanish
Credits: 6 semester hours
60 days of instruction; average 90 minutes per day; minimum 90 contact hours of instruction.

Since language acquisition is a primary goal of the program, all students below the advanced level must take an on-going Spanish course. Only Lower Intermediate and Upper Intermediate classes are offered. Advanced students are encouraged to enroll in the Independent Study Project if they do not take a language course.

In addition to small class instruction averaging 90 minutes each day, as part of the program’s language instruction, each student receives at least one 90-minute, one-on-one tutorial session, addressing personal needs.  The course culminates with final exams and students’ oral presentations, which are based on readings, observations and reflections. Content of the Spanish language course relates directly to the program's themes and course content.  Assessment and grading is based on the quality of classroom participation, oral presentations, brief written papers, and a final exam.

In order to encourage further language acquisition beyond formal instruction and studying, BCA will employ several social strategies. Included among these are Spanish hours and English hours, at which time the only language on campus that can be spoken is the designated language for the hour.  Additionally, language partners will be assigned for students who desire further one-on-one practice.  Finally, BCA organizes occasional competitions, such as a mini-Olympic games, that require joint participation between local and international students and constant multi-lingual communication. For those students interested in learning one of the native languages from the Ecuadorian Amazon, local students are happy to share and assist others in learning their native Kichwa language.

5. Semester Course: Independent Study Project
(Optional and by Special Permission Only)

Course code: TBA
Project Advisor: TBA
Credits: 4 semester hours.
On-going throughout the semester. Minimum expectation of 120 hours of work toward the project and final paper.

The program’s Independent Study Project (ISP) may be based on a study related to a service learning assignment or a field research topic, focusing on a student’s identified area of interest as related to the themes of the program.  Students must choose a topic – usually from a list of general areas provided by the program – and include this, along with an expected approach to undertaking it, in their program application.

The ISP is expected to involve a total of no less than 120 hours of work. Projects include consultations with the resident director and/or project advisor, independent reading, field learning, and the preparation of a final paper (3000-5000 words) or an agreed-upon creative and analytical project of equivalent value. The ISP culminates in an oral presentation called Amazon Studies (with a subtitle and specific topic chosen by the student in consultation with the resident director and project advisor.) BCA will make every effort to assure that a given semester’s group includes a diverse range of projects, thus inspiring students to learn from each other. Highly successful final projects may be selected for publication or other sharing by BCA Study Abroad.

Possible sites, among others, for service learning as a base for the ISP include the following:

  • One of two local primary schools where most students commute to and from the school via canoe (for issues of Primary Education, ESL, Early Childhood Education); one of several small village communities (for Community Organizing, Environmental Education, Public Health, Nutrition).
  • The local Ministry of Health Clinic (for Public Health, Doctor/Nurse Assistance programs); a local family or cooperatively-owned farm (regarding cultivation and sustenance economy farming of cacao, corn, coffee, etc.).

Other ISP placements may include travel beyond the immediate area and imply additional costs for the student. Research projects are encouraged in such areas as Sustainable or Subsistence Agriculture, Linguistics, Education, Community Development, Conservation, Oral Tradition, Religion/Spirituality, and Public Health.  Such projects must include elements of environmental sustainability, bio-diversity or leadership. They should be rooted in field research methodologies and must first be approved by the BCA Resident Director.

Final Papers, Language Exams, Program Evaluation & Departure

During this final period of the program, students undertaking Independent Study Projects dedicate time to project completion; all students enrolled in the language course will take exams; final papers for courses are completed; and the students participate in an on-site assessment of the program. Finally, there is an evening of farewell activities before students depart for home or elsewhere.