December 2007 | Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program

December 2007

Tracing Darwin's Path Winter 2007-2008

In the wintermester of December 2007 and January 2008, Dr. Ricardo Rozzi and Dr. James Kennedy co-taught an interdisciplinary course coupling both the cultural and biological factors within conservation. This three week long course consisted of a tour through the Patagonian region surrounding Punta Arenas, including time at the Institute of Patagonia and the Universidad de Magallanes, a visit to the Otway Sound Penguin Colony, a visit to the Pali-Aike Park, a 40 hours tour of the glaciers through the beagle channel on a ferry, camping at the foot of the Los Dientes de Navarino mountains near Robálo Lake, biological sampling of the freshwater invertebrates throughout the Robálo watershed and an exploration of the Miniature Forests in Omora Ethnobotanical Park. Throughout this journey, an ongoing ethnobotanical study was conducted recording bird calls and taking pictures of the many avian species of the region.

Course Content and Student Contributions

The course was broken into two classes, philosophy and biology. The philosophy class, taught by Dr. Rozzi, was broken into two further subgroups: the ethnobotanical group responsible for compiling images of local birds for a publication, along with recording of their names in various languages, and the miniature forest group which was working with the bryophytes in Omora Ethnobotanical Park. The biology class, taught by Dr. Kennedy, studied freshwater aquatic invertebrates within the Robálo Watershed. Throughout the trip, both English and Spanish was translated to maintain an open and continuous dialogue with all the participants.

While the biology and philosophy class worked and learned together throughout much of the course, their respective research would often take the students through different paths of experience. For instance, the philosophy class rode on the ferry to see the glaciers and birdlife beyond the shores of the Biosphere Reserve while the biology group went ahead to hike in the Los Dientes de Navarino Mountains to study the Robálo watershed. When the two groups met, the new lessons were exchanged around campfires and lively debates about what they had learned ensued. The class culminated in a dinner at the end of the course, where each group presented what they had learned and their experience of the trip, joined by professors and local educators from the region.

To hear the voices of our students:

  1. The Ferry from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams
  2. Learning to step softly, all while appreciating the little things
  3. Experience in the Outdoor Classroom
  4. Philosophical Reflections on Nature Conservation
  5. Video: TRACING DARWIN'S PATH: CONVERGENCES OF NATURAL. A video of the trip was created by Nolberto Gonzalez.

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