These two courses (8 units, 4 in life science and 4 in social sciences) provide a comparative study of human and natural history of two regions: New Mexico (Cibola, Socorro, and Sierra Counties) and Western Argentina (specifically the provinces of San Juan and Mendoza).
The seminars will offer an interdisciplinary study of social and natural sciences about two regions located at the same latitude but in different hemispheres. These courses will examine how this geography impacts both natural and human history. Topics covered during classes, field study, and lectures by guest scholars are: geology and physical geography, biogeography, biodiversity, water resources, historical and present use of land, sustainable development, and current human presence and the interrelations of “man and biosphere”.
Both regions have biosphere reserves that will be an important part of the field study (Jornada in New Mexico, and Ñacuñán in the province of Mendoza, Argentina); both are arid zones with many interesting characteristics in common to analyze and compare.*
The study of these biosphere reserves will be included in a bigger context (regional, national, and international), and in the context of comparative frontiers (both regions have a human history, natural history, and a cultural presence that provide interesting characteristics demonstrating the existence of ecological as well as cultural frontiers.)
The presence of research stations in both regions will make students’ research more productive (Ñacuñán Research Station in Mendoza, and Jornada and Sevilleta research stations in New Mexico).
A primary goal of these two integrated courses is to train undergraduate students in research methods in both the social and natural sciences, while working on topics that will provide an international awareness and understanding.
* “Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. Biosphere reserves serve in some ways as ‘living laboratories’ for testing out and demonstrating integrated management of land, water and biodiversity.” (“Frequently Asked Questions on Biosphere Reserves”, MAB, UNESCO, http://www.unesco.org/mab/nutshell.htm, October 12, 2005)