Sustainable Development, Environmental Policy, and Human Rights in Peru
This field course in Peru studies the confluence of livelihoods, environmental protection, and human rights, particularly those of indigenous communities in the Amazon rainforest and Andean regions. The central case we investigate is illegal gold mining and deforestation in the Amazon region of Madre de Dios, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Gold mining is a major problem throughout the Amazon region, causing deforestation and long-term harm to people and wildlife from mercury pollution. It is precarious labor associated with organized crime and human trafficking. In the Amazon, we stay at a research-oriented eco-lodge co-owned and operated by the Ese’eja indigenous community of Infierno and an ecotourism company. We study this cooperative arrangement as an example of employment-generating, self-managed local development and capacity-building that presents an economic alternative to extractive activities while protecting the forest. Guided by Ese’eja community members, we observe first-hand the natural richness of Peru’s Amazon rainforest and wildlife and learn about indigenous forest management. Resource extraction and conservation are part of a broader policy context and demographic dynamic in the country. Moving to the Cusco region in the Andes, we investigate the economic and environmental drivers of informal migrant labor from mountain communities to the Amazon gold mining regions. We meet with NGOs working to address poverty and migration in the Andes as well as the problems of persistent inequality and discrimination, rapid environmental change, and conflicts between local governance and national policy. We meet with farmers and others developing ways to gain income in line with their respect for nature and their communities. Through further discussions in Lima, we learn from top government officials and civil society experts about the national policy context and strategies regarding sustainable democratic development, environmental policy and resource management, marginalized peoples and human rights, and Peru’s law enforcement approach to stemming illegal mining and Amazon deforestation.
Schedule of Classes