This short-term study abroad program for DePaul undergraduates combines an active science-based service-learning project (using GIS) with a strong grounding in grassroots environmentalism and rural food systems in Kenya. The program is conducted in collaboration with the Green Belt Movement (GBM), an internationally recognized environmental organization focused on building community programs in environmental protection and restoration, food security, civic empowerment, and women's rights. Students experience the lived reality of environmental practice while residing and working with GBM families in rural Kenya. They also experience the diverse natural environments of Kenya in a "green safari".
Classroom activities on campus prior to travel introduce students to the courses' topics. While in Kenya, students and GBM members work on community projects such as tree planting, food security, and sustainable agriculture. In addition, travels and excursions introduce students to the diversity of Kenyan society, culture, and environment.
Two courses will be offered between fall and winter terms 2013-14; Geography 241 (Geographic Information Systems – GIS I) and CSS 320 Community Food Systems. In GEO 241 students will learn the fundamental principles of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and will prepare for a community mapping project that will be undertaken in Kenya. The mapping will focus on food security, civic empowerment, and infrastructure as specified by GBM. In CSS 320 students will analyze the issue of food security in Kenya through the lens of community residents active within GBM. Working with GBM, students will explore grassroots responses to food insecurity—community-driven efforts at producing, distributing and consuming food—and how they reflect the social, cultural, economic, and political contexts of Kenya.
In Nairobi, students stay at GBM’s Langata Center (the former estate of the Austrian Ambassador – converted into an environmental learning facility) in shared, traditional, Kikuyu dwellings. While traveling to community sites students stay with GBM member families, and on the green safari in modern lodges.
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