Sustainable Development, Environmental Policy and Human Rights
Madre de Dios region in the Amazon rain forest and Lima
Term: Spring Break
This graduate-level course travels to the Amazon region of Madre de Dios in southeast Peru and to the coastal capital of Lima to explore key environmental, development, and human rights issues confronting the country and strategies for addressing them. In the Amazonian Madre de Dios / Tambopata region – one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet – we stay at Posada Amazonas, 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 of ecotourism as an example of employment-generating, environmentally-sound, self-managed local development and capacity building. This kind of approach and the Amazon ecosystem itself are challenged by large-scale resource exploitation moving further into the rainforest, particularly illegal gold mining and its concomitant social problems, and the recently completed Interoceanic Highway, which cuts through the Madre de Dios region. We also observe first-hand the natural richness of Peru’s Amazon rainforest and its wildlife and examine the efforts and challenges of Peruvians in seeking livelihood development models consistent with the health of the natural environment.
In the Andes, we are based in Cusco, a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage city and the former center of Incan civilization. From Cusco, we investigate the drivers of migration to the gold mining regions and to Lima from poor Quechua communities in the Andes. We meet with NGOs working to address poverty in the region, as well as the problems of persistent inequality, environmental change, and questions of governance. This takes us to small villages in the sierra to meet with farmers and others developing new ways to gain income in line with their respect for the earth and their communities.
In Lima, we engage in discussions with top experts and officials from government, civil society, and academia working on issues related to democratic development, environmental policy and resource management, and marginalized peoples and human rights.