Academic Course Calendar - UPEACE-Semester Abroad Programme - 2016 - 2017

Courses and Teachers
2016 - 2017 - UPEACE-Semester Abroad Programme
Course listings are continously updated with new information
Courses Teacher Credits # Weeks Dates
Water, Security and Peace
Recommended
Julie Ann Elkins Watson
(USA)
3 credits
3 weeks
26 Oct-15 Nov 2016
8:45 - 11:45 At Council Room
Forests, Forestry and Poverty
Recommended
Jan Breitling
(Germany)
3 credits
3 weeks
26 Oct-15 Nov 2016
1:15 - 4:15 At Classroom #4
Management of Coastal Resources
Recommended
Marco Quesada
(Costa Rica)
3 credits
3 weeks (NOTE: including double session on Dec 02
17 Nov-02 Dec 2016
8:45 AM - 11:45 AM At Classroom #4
Sustainable Agriculture
Recommended
Olivia Sylvester
(Canada)
3 credits
3 weeks
21 Nov-09 Dec 2016
8:45 AM - 11:45 AM At Classroom #2
Disaster Risk Reduction
Recommended
Urbano Fra
(Spain)
3 credits
3 weeks
9-27 Jan 2017
8:45 - 11:45 At Classroom #2
Food Security
Recommended
Olivia Sylvester
(Canada)
3 credits
3 weeks
20 Mar-07 Apr 2017
1:15 - 4:15 At Classroom #5



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COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course explores conflict, insecurity and collaboration in relation to scarcity, poor quality, and variability of freshwater resources. Students will examine disputes and conflict over access to fresh water resources and rivers, including dam construction.  

A special focus will be on how conflict over transboundary freshwater resources has fostered peace building through cooperative co-management. Throughout the course, mechanisms and instruments will be introduced to assist the resolution and prevention of water-related conflict and insecurity including: international law; institutional arrangements; governance and policy reform; and involvement of civil society organizations.

Deforestation is seen by many as one of the main global environmental challenges of our times, because of its significant impact on biodiversity and its important contribution to Global Warming. This course analyzes the way deforestation has been and is being explained by both mainstream and alternative narratives, critically engages with the way it is defined and measured, and discusses the various attempts in stopping or reducing it. Additionally, this course takes a look at the links between poverty and deforestation, some of the possible strategies to reduce poverty through forest-based activities, and analyzes and discusses the importance of forests for humans and the challenges faced by those who try to manage them sustainably.

This course will provide a brief introduction to the particularities of coastal and oceanic resources and ecologies. Second, we will investigate the unique attributes of the human economic, social, and cultural systems (i.e. fishing, fisherman and fishing cultures) that are most directly dependent upon them. Among the many topics within this section, the course will specifically focus on understanding artisanal fisheries, large-scale/industrial fishing, and aquaculture, as well as the differences and conflicts that exist between these methods of resource extraction. Third, a broad overview of the development of the current resource crises and conflicts will be presented and examined via case studies from throughout the globe. Fourth, the evolution of and trends in coastal and marine management over the last century will also be a central aspect of this course.  

Thus, we will explore the evolution from traditional top-down models to the implementation of stakeholder inclusion participation, and comanagment. We will also thoroughly review the role of marine parks, protected areas, and no-take reserves in the management and conservation of coastal resources. Finally, through practical exercises, guest lectures, and field visits, students will be able to explore the complex nexus of relations between humans and coastal/marine resources as it applies to Latin America and the case of Costa Rica.  

In sum, students in this course will gain insight into and knowledge of how we have moved from the naïve perspectives of Mare Liberum and the inexhaustibility of oceanic resources, which were predominant in the 19th century, to the increasingly complex layers of marine tenure systems, marine protected areas, and precautionary approaches that characterize contemporary 21st century marine and coastal resource management regimes.

This course explores contemporary trends in sustainable agriculture and agroecology. The course begins by building a framework of the different ways in which sustainable agriculture is practiced. We relate these contemporary practices to the capitalist transformation of agriculture in the 20th century. We then ground our academic study of the transformation of agricultural practices in actual existing famers and agribusiness. We will visit a Dole banana plantation, the Corsicana organic pineapple plantation and two small organic farms all in the Caribbean plain of Costa Rica. The field trip gives an opportunity to view how course topics inform contemporary agricultural practices. In the second week of class we examine how trade, globalization and hybrid / GM technologies have accelerated the transformation of agriculture. We pay particular attention to the role of science in this transformation via case studies of organics, transgenics, and the IAASTD report. We end with a focus on population and its role in agricultural transformation, institutional projects to promote agro-ecology, and a move towards local food production and consumption.

The physical risk reduction capacity of ecosystems depends on their health and structure, and the intensity of the hazard event. Degraded ecosystems can still play a buffering role, although to a much lesser extent than fully functioning ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems reduce social-economic vulnerability by sustaining human livelihoods and providing essential goods such as food, fibre, medicines and construction materials. For example, in addition to providing coastal hazard protection, mangroves and seagrass beds support fishing and tourism activities and store high amounts of carbon.  Ecosystems can reduce physical exposure to common natural hazards, namely landslides, flooding, avalanches, storm surges, wildfires and drought, by serving as natural infrastructure, protective barriers or buffers. For example, in the European Alps, mountain forests have a long history of being managed for protection against avalanches and rockfall. Protection forests in Switzerland, have been valued at USD $1,000 per hectare per year along mountain roads and the state provides considerable financial incentives to manage forests for hazard protection.

The objective of this course is to first explore the nature of our food systems and the paradox of why, despite the apparent scientific and technological developments in agriculture enabling production of a worldwide food surplus, food insecurity is increasing globally. Secondly, students will explore what needs to change in our food systems in order to reach a goal of sustainable food security.

To achieve these two objectives, students will be encouraged to explore food security from a household and community perspective in order to understand the environmental factors that contribute to food insecurity. This knowledge-building process will be done through group tasks in the classroom and in the field. Students will be expected to undertake practical work to assess the situation of households vulnerable to food insecurity, hopefully in two locations, one urban and one rural. The course emphasizes “learning by doing” and so there will be field trips to two locations to meet vulnerable households and to assess successful local research initiatives which are increasing household and community food security.

Group work in the class will address defining food security and what constitutes a healthy sustainable food system. In addition, there will be group work, for example, in exploring the causes of famines, the issue of food justice and a right to food, the problems of food aid, and the implications of commoditization of our food systems. To bring out opposing viewpoints on food issues, part of the group work will be organized as debates. The intention of the course is to emphasise experiential learning rather than focus on formal lectures although there will be an initial presentation by the instructor on a food security topic prior to each workshop session. Hopefully, students will have gained both practical skills and theoretical knowledge about hunger, famine and food security and will feel confident and empowered to address these issues directly or indirectly in their future work.



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FACULTY

Jan Breitling is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Development at University for Peace. He holds a BSc. in Tropical Forestry, from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica, and a MSc. in Environmental Sciences from WUR Wageningen University and Research Center, The Netherlands. His research interests include root causes of deforestation and Global Environmental Change, and Environmental Governance, specifically market based approaches addressing biodiversity conservation and Climate Change.

Dr. Julie Watson is a PhD in geography with expertise in transboundary water conflict and cooperation.
Julie's goal is to figure out ways we can collaborate more effectively over shared water resources while addressing inequities in access to water for all its uses. She's especially interested in environmental justice, participatory processes, and the integration of qualitative, hard-to-measure values alongside the quantifiable in more holistic decision-making frameworks.
Julie is certified in mediation and transboundary water conflict transformation. She has produced a documentary film and measured its value as a facilitation tool, and she has created training modules and conducted workshops to build practitioner capacity for conflict management. Julie's passion is creating a resilient process and facilitating stronger partnerships to catalyze creative, strategic, and resilient water governance solutions for more peaceful, just water management.

 

M.Sc. in Marine Biology, Universidad de Costa Rica.  Ph.D. candidate, Marine Affairs Department, University of Rhode Island. Coordinator, Southern Central America Marine Program, Conservation International. Member of the Costa Rican Ocean Commission, in representation of Conservation International and of the Costa Rican Marine resources sub-commission, within the Presidential “Peace with Nature” Initiative. Appointed to Costa Rica’s technical working group for the South Pacific, for the assessment of the viability of establishing a new marine protected area in Costa Rica’s south Pacific. As a member of Costa Rica’s EEZ Commission, active participation in the elaboration of Costa Rica’s National Marine Strategy. Professor, Introduction to Fisheries Management (B-0681), School of Biology, University of Costa Rica.

An ethnobiologist who researches food harvesting in Costa Rica. For the past decade her research program has focused on access to food in Costa Rican national parks. Specifically her emphasis has been on Indigenous rights to access and harvest cultural food. Olivia is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Society of Ethnobiology, the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project, and the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance. Being active within these networks allows her to work at the interface of policy and practice regarding food harvesting and access.

Urbano Fra Paleo, B.A. Hons. Geography (Santiago de Compostela), Ph.D. Geography (Santiago de Compostela, 1996), also holds a Diploma in Environmental Engineering from the EOI Business School and is a certified Geomatics Specialist (GIS/LIS).

Urbano Fra is Professor in Human Geography at the University of Extremadura in Spain, currently on leave at the Land Laboratory (LaboraTe) of the University of Santiago de Compostela since 2007. He is Visiting Professor at the University for Peace (UPEACE), Costa Rica. He worked at the US Geological Survey in Denver (1995) and Hawai’i (1999), and was Research Associate at The Environment Institute of the University of Denver (1996). In 2005 he was Fellow of the American Geographical Society Library of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
 
Dr. Fra has performed fieldwork in the United States, Mexico and Morocco, and taught at the University of Köln, Germany (2003), University of Marburg, Germany, (2002), University of Iceland, Iceland (2001) and Fachhochschule Neubrandenburg, Germany (1997). His research interests lie in risk governance, particularly the development of criteria and methods to perform collaborative evaluation. His research is also focused on the analysis of strategies of mitigation and adaptation to risk from natural hazards.
 
His most recent works include the editing of the books Building safer communities. Governance, spatial planning, and responses to natural hazards (IOS Press, 2009), and Riesgos naturales en Galicia El encuentro entre naturaleza y sociedad (University of Santiago de Compostela Press, 2010), a review of the interaction between natural hazards and societal processes in northwestern Spain. He currently is editing the book Risk governance: The articulation of hazard, politics and ecology for Springer. Urbano Fra has been involved in the European Virtual Seminar on sustainable development through a European-wide university partnership. He is a member of the group that is developing the evaluation tool AISHE 2.0, contributing with criteria and methods for the evaluation of sustainability in higher education.
 
He currently is member of the Spanish Scientific Committee of International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), of the Scientific Committee of the Integrated Risk Governance (IRG) Project, of the Disaster Risk Reduction Thematic Group, Commission on Ecosystem Management, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), project associate of the Project Urbanization and Global Environmental Change (UGEC), and is Senior Research Fellow of the IHDP Earth System Governance.
 
In 2009 Urbano Fra received the Innovation Award from the University of Santiago de Compostela, and the same year was honored with the Sustainable Actions in Social Entrepreneurship Award from the University of Santiago de Compostela and the Jaime Vera Foundation for distinguished contributions in introducing young students to science research.
 
He serves on the editorial board of the Chinese Geographical Science Journal.
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