Experiential, Field-Based Learning Is A Focus Throughout CLTL
One of the things that sets this initiative apart from others is the experience that students will gain from working in the field on real-world conservation and development issues. Field visits are woven into the coursework from the beginning and continue to include a 7-month international experience. During the international experience, students and faculty will work along side local organizational partners and community members to ensure that actions taken are culturally sensitive and site appropriate. More information about each location is included below. Locations are listed in alphabetical order. Exact locations included in each cohort will be determined based on interest from accepted students as stated in the CLTL application form.
| Bahamas | Belize | Kenya | Mexico | Montenegro | New Zealand | Peru | Rocky Mountain West |
Official language: English
Description: The Bahamas’ ecosystems include Blue Holes, mangroves, coral reefs, pine forests and coppice thickets, and provide a diversity of opportunities to study and enjoy. In total, The Bahamas is comprised of more than 3,000 islands and cayes, though only 26 are inhabited and the largest island is approximately 2,300 square miles.
The location for the CLTL program in the Bahamas will be situated in Nassau (population 230,000) on New Providence Island in the Caribbean for two months in a shared apartment near the College of the Bahamas followed by up to 4 months in the outer islands on Grand Bahama, Abaco, Andros, or Exuma. Students can anticipate working closely with many conservation partners such as Bahamas National Trust and Friends of the Environment to explore a variety of issues related to protected area management, marine conservation, environmental education and sustainable tourism/ecotourism. Field experiences would likely include visits to outer islands and national parks to study protected area issues, participate in coral reef and other ecological monitoring, and understand the complex relationship between tourism and island resources.
Potential research topics: The Bahamas presents tremendous opportunities for students to immerse themselves in issues related to environmental policy and tourism, and how such policies and tourism can positively and negatively impact a community and its ecosystems. From small-scale locally-operated beach cottages to massive multi-national mega-resorts and the cruise industry, The Bahamas provides a mix of scenarios to evaluate and research such as protected area management plans for marine and terrestrial based parks, to sustainable tourism development strategies for the outer islands, or to national environmental policy implementation strategies for the Bahamas.
Official language: English
Other languages: Kriol, Spanish, Maya Kekchi, Garifuna, Maya Mopan
Description: Belize, a land where Caribbean, Mayan and Latin cultures converge, offers many opportunities to experience a variety of ecosystems. The least populated of all countries in Central America, Belize is home to Mayan ruins, ancient temples, and rainforests, while off the coast lies the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere. The conservation issues in Belize are as diverse as its people and landscapes. Designated a biodiversity hotspot, Belize has protected approximately 37% of its area.
The base for the Belize program is anticipated to be in the Punta Gorda region (population 6,000) located in the southern part of the country. Accommodations are likely to be a shared apartment or house in this seaport/fishing community from which field trips will be taken related to the study of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, , wildlife conservation (e.g., hawksbill turtles, howler monkeys), tourism and community-based conservation. In partnership with local NGOs, universities, and/or government agencies students will undertake fieldwork in small villages in both the interior as well as coastal areas to examine conservation and development issues.
Potential research topics: a variety of community-based conservation issues related to species conservation, coral reef protection, local peoples’ livelihoods and others. Belize also provides many opportunities to address the relationship between tourism, community development and environmental protection.
Official Languages: Swahili and English
Other Languages: local tribal languages
Description: Kenya offers a diverse suite of ecosystems, from its dry grassland areas in the north to coniferous rain forests in the west, and coastal mangroves along the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is also a country undergoing a significant transition with dramatic improvements in infrastructure and education that have many implications for the country’s natural resources. In addition, the Great Rift Valley runs through Kenya and provides habitat to thousands of species, including many large mammal populations that serve as a basis for Kenya’s safari tourism industry.
Students will be based in Kenya’s central province in the shadows of 17,000+ foot Mount Kenya, in the town of Nanyuki (population approx.. 35,000) located a few hours north of the capital, Nairobi. Accommodations are likely to be a shared apartment or house. Nanyuki is home to a number of conservation organizations in Kenya, including the Mpala Research Centre and a branch office of the African Wildlife Foundation, and is within close proximity of leading conservation organizations such as Lewa Conservancy and Northern Rangelands Trust. Students will potentially work with some of these organizations while in Kenya as well as faculty and other students from University of Nairobi as part of a formal partnership between the university and CSU. Further, there are more than a dozen protected areas within a day’s drive such as Samburu National Reserve, Mount Kenya National Park and Meru National Park.
Potential research topics: The conservation issues which will likely serve as a basis for CLTL study include an examination of how perceptions of wildlife and local knowledge about natural resources are changing as nomadic pastoralist cultures become more settled; human-wildlife conflict; issues of gender in natural resource management; the role of environmental education in nurturing future conservation leaders, and sustainable tourism development.
Mexico (dual-degree program with ECOSUR)
Official language: Spanish
Other languages: Tzeltal, Tzotzil, and other indigenous languages
University Partner: El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)
Practitioner Partners: Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP), Instituto Nacioanl de Investigaciones Forestales, Agricola, y Pecuarias (INIFAP), Fondo de Conservacion El Triunfo (FONCET), Pronatura Sur, The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Description: CLTL Mexico is based in the southern state of Chiapas, one of the most diverse states in Mexico, which in tern is one of the world's 17 mega-diverse countries. The incredible diversity in Chiapas is biological, physical, and cultural. The costal plains, cloud forests, tropical dry forests, and lowland tropical rainforests dot a mountainous landscape represented by the Chiapas highlands and Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains. Chiapas also has many different indigenous groups that maintain many traditional practices and who largely make their living off the land.
Students will be based in the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, which is world-renown as one of Mexico's "magical cities". San Cristobal serves as a perfect location for groups heading east towards the lowland tropical rainforest of the Selva Lacandona or west towards the Sierra Madre mountains and the pacific coast. San Cristobal is only home to our Mexican University partner, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR). We worked with ECOSUR exclusively on the first 2-cohorts of the program before deciding to expand our program offering with other partners around the globe. CLTL also exists at ECOSUR (Liderazgo para la Conservacion mediante el aprendizaje - LiCA) as a degree program and the requirements for coursework have been designed so that students get a dual-degree - one from CSU and one from ECOSUR upon completion of the program.
Potential research topics: Students will have the opportunity to work along side local partners to address real-world issues. Projects sites for the will focus on the Sierra Madre Watersheds of Chiapas, the Coastal Soconusco plain, the central depression, and the Maya Forest. Topics include climate change adaptation and communication planning, urban sustainability, integrated watershed management, supporting the development of the Chiapas Water Fund and other possible payment for ecosystem services programs, working with local agricultural community cooperatives on resilience and adaptation, working in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor to support low-impact coffee production, sustainable fishing on the Chiapas pacific coast, and diversification of ecotourism opportunities in the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve.
Official language: Montenegrin
Other languages: Serbian, Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, English
Description: Montenegro received its independence from Serbia in 2006. With a beautiful Mediterranean coastline and mountainous peaks more than 7,000 feet, its protected areas include a diversity of ecosystems and natural resources. As a young country, Montenegro is in an early stage of understanding the ecological, social and economic value of its protected areas. In addition, as it anticipates acceptance into the European Union within the next decade, Montenegro must develop a protected area system that insures it will protect threatened species and important ecological services. Currently the University of Donja Gorica in Montenegro works closely with the United Nations Environment Programme and United Nations Development Programme to help navigate these complex issues in which our students will be exposed.
Students will be based in Montenegro’s capital city, Podgorica (population 150,000+). Accommodations will likely be a shared apartment. Most of the country is reachable within a few hours’ drive of this geographically small country. Other population centers include the coastal resort town of Budva, the Venetian-influenced port town of Kotor and the centrally located city of Nikšić.
Potential research topics: The conservation issues which will likely serve as a basis for CLTL study include collaborative conservation to involve local communities in protected area decision-making; impacts from coastal tourism; building partnerships among government, quasi-government and non-governmental organizations; and assessment of ecosystem services provided by protected areas.
New Zealand (Aotearoa)
Official Languages: English and Maori
Description: New Zealand, or Aotearoa as it is known to the Maori people, is located in the South Pacific. The small country (approximately the size of the state of Colorado) is divided into two main islands (North and South Island) and several other smaller islands. The country's four and half million inhabitants are mostly of Maori (15%) and European (68%) descent, and nearly 3/4 of the population lives in urban centers. New Zealand is renowned for its spectacular landscapes, which include the Southern Alps with numerous peaks over 10,000 feet, the volcanic plateau of central North Island home to the active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park (a World Heritage Site), and nearly 9,000 miles of coastline that includes beautiful beaches and majestic fjords. Like many island nations, New Zealand’s flora and fauna are endemic and an increasing number are highly threatened. New Zealand faces several conservation challenges, including severe threats from invasive species, habitat loss due to deforestation, and increasing concerns around energy consumption and water quality. On the international scale, New Zealand is considered a strong leader in environmental protection and restoration measures.
Information about living location and arrangements: Students will initially be based in Wellington (population 390,000) on the north island, the country’s capitol and second most populous city. From here, field trips will taken throughout regions of the North Island. Wellington is also a gateway for crossing the Cook Strait to South Island. Field trips on both islands will explore a wide range of conservation issues, including challenges related to protected area management, ecological restoration, agriculture, energy, urban sustainability and water quality.
Potential research topics: Students will have the opportunity to partner with a variety of organizations to explore a wide range of topics, including protected area management, ecological restoration, urban sustainability, renewable energy, and the environmental and socio-economic dimensions of agriculture.
Official language: Spanish
Other languages: Quechua, Aymara
Partners: Asociacion para la Investigacion y el Desarrollo Integral (AIDER), Pontificia Univerisdad Catolica del Peru (PUCP), Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), Serivicio Nacional de Areas Protegidas por el Estado (SERNANP)
Description: Peru is a geographically dramatic country that can be divided into three regions including (1) the arid coastal plains, (2) high Andean peaks (reaching over 22,000 feet above sea level), and (3) the Amazon rainforest. One of the 17 mega-diverse countries in the world, Peru is rich natural resources. This natural resource base includes some of the most biologically diverse parts of the planet. This diversity also includes economically significant resources including copper, silver, lead, zinc, oil, and gold. These resources have increasingly been developed and in part has fueled an economic boom throughout the 2000’s. In addition, to natural resources, Peru has world-class historical and cultural resources including location such as Cuzco, Manchu Picchu, and the communities of Lake Titicaca.
Students will primarily be based in Puerto Maldondo in the department of Madre de Dios in the southern portion of the Amazon Basin. Puerto Maldonado serves as a well positioned jumping off point for exploration of the rivers, forests, and livelihood activities that dot the landscape. A number of local and international NGOs operate out of Puerto Maldonado and will partner with CLTL.
Potential research topics: The conservation issues which will likely serve as a basis for CLTL study include collaborative conservation, sustainable tourism development, establishing long-term sustainable livelihoods activities, understanding the effects of the new interoceanic highway, and local community involvement in national protected area management.
Rocky Mountain West, USA
Official language: English
Potential Partners: City of Fort Collins, Environmental Defense Fund, Larimer County, Legacy Land Trust, National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service
Description: From wide-open grasslands to mountain ecosystems with peaks topping 14,000 feet, the Rocky Mountains are home to some of the most inspiring, iconic, and ecologically important regions in the United States. This region’s diverse lands and rivers are critically important in protecting biodiversity, and in providing natural resources, clean water, recreational opportunities, scenic beauty, and many other benefits that support urban and rural communities.
The Rocky Mountains contain many of the fastest growing states in the country, and the rapid pace of change can be felt throughout the urban, rural, and wildland fabric of the region. Advancing conservation means addressing pressing issues such as water security in this water scarce region, sustainable land-use planning in the context of urban, suburban, and exurban expansion, energy development across public and private lands, and substantial forest health issues related to mountain pine beetle infestations and the “new normal” of heightened large-scale wildfire risk, as played out in multiple states across the West in the summer of 2012.
The challenges are formidable, but diverse leaders throughout the region are pursing innovative conservation strategies: implementing market-based incentives for biodiversity and ecosystem services protection; collaborative partnerships between environmentalists, agriculturalists, and urban residents; landscape-scale mitigation projects related to exurban development and energy extraction; and much more.
Students will be based in Fort Collins and travel to other field locations in the Rocky Mountain region, depending upon what is most suitable for their master’s project. Students in this region will work with partners such as The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, local land trusts, city and county governments, corporations, and others to apply their technical and leadership skills to build regional capacity to solve these complex conservation challenges.
Potential research topics: Students working in this region will utilize the ecosystem services framework (looking at benefits provided by nature that support human wellbeing) to examine and advance conservation efforts with partners in the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors. Potential topics include: supporting the design, implementation, and evaluation of payment for ecosystem services programs; working with corporations to integrate ecosystem services into their strategic planning processes; working with private ranchers, farmers, and forest managers to pursue diversified business strategies that integrate agricultural and conservation-oriented income streams; and developing strategies to mitigate forest wildfires and risks to source water protection.