Exploring Eco-Tourism and Fair Trade in Peru

The 2015 International Field course included nine students who journeyed to the mountains and jungles of Peru under the leadership of Dr. John Colton and Jodie Noiles. Much of their first week was spent at the Chontachaca Ecological Reserve (REC) in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin, where they assessed ecotourism programs and volunteered with the reserve. REC is an association of environmental, ecological and non-profit groups with the aim of working for the defense and conservation of the Amazonian forest and all the beings that inhabit it. Visit the reserve online. 

In their second week they climbed the Inca Trail, a 45 kilometre hike to the top of the Andes and the ancient Inca city and world heritage site of Machu Picchu (see picture). It was a very strenuous, challenging and mind-blowing hike. Their final week was spent in the small mountain community of Lucmabamba, where they lived with families who are a part of a fair trade coffee coop. They picked and processed coffee while appreciating the implications and impacts of fair trade coffee production on daily life in this community. They also spent time working with children at the local school. Overall, It was an amazing capstone to their community development degree.

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The Bridgewater Park and Walk Initiative

A team of eight graduating students in the Department of Community Development supported by Prof. Glyn Bissix and Mr. Tom Dalmazzi of the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre worked with the Bridgewater Active Transportation Committee to develop a “Park and Walk” initiative aimed at increasing healthy, physical activity among residents and visitors to the downtown core. This was an intensive three week project. Students were briefed by Mr. Leone De Vreede, Sustainability Officer and Councillor Jennifer MacDonald for the Town of Bridgewater on the project. Their work included a number of site visits to conduct in depth interviews with members of the Bridgewater Active Transportation (AT) Committee. They conducted surveys with business owners, staff and customers in the down town core, and assessed the physical opportunities and barriers to promoting more walking as a healthy, active lifestyle for Bridgewater residents and business customers. Shannon White, a student on the team, said that this was a really valuable and practical team experience working with the Bridgewater AT Committee, talking with residents about the potential for this health promotion initiative, and surveying infrastructure in the down town core”. Tom Dalmazzi, Community Entrepreneurship Facilitator said, “that this was a great opportunity for students to put all of their education and experience into action. Experiential projects such as this, are invaluable for the students as they embark on their careers in the field of community development.”

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Citizen Engagement in Kings County

Nine Core Term students from the Department of Community Development engaged in a three week Community Project with the Municipality of the County of King’s Good Governance and Citizen Engagement Working Group. During the first week of the project students learned about the County, municipal government the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) from experts in the community. In the second and third week of the project, the students captured the voices of 59 young people between the ages of 18 and 30 in the County by conducting short face-to-face surveys. The surveys asked County residents about their engagement in municipal government, what issues concern them in the County and how they would like to be engaged in decision making at the municipal level. The information collected was synthesized, analyzed and brought back to the Working Group, to inform a public engagement strategy for the County of Kings. Along with the surveys, the students also gathered information on exemplary public engagement tools being used in other municipalities across the country that followed the IAP2 spectrum of engagement. The strategies that were presented to the Working Group focused on online engagement tools, because many of the young people surveyed expressed an interest in being engaged through social media. The students also recommended engagement strategies that educate and empower youth about municipal government and issues. They presented examples of municipalities that host youth summits on municipal engagement. The students concluded that education is essential to fostering citizenship and engagement in future generations, and recommend this be included in the County’s public engagement strategy.