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WKU Geography faculty lead study abroad in Argentina

Two faculty and three students from WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, along with eight students from Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) consortium colleges, returned home last week after completing a month-long, 4,200-mile circumnavigation of northern Argentina.

Led by Dr. David Keeling, Geography and Geology Department Head, and Will Blackburn, the KIIS summer program introduced students to the geography and culture of Argentina, with visits to five of the country’s six major regions.

Study abroad in Argentina

Students at the Tropic of Capricorn in Jujuy Province, Argentina.

Study Abroad Argentina

Students analyzing Potrerillo reservoir in the Uspallata Pass, Mendoza, Argentina.

The program began in the capital city of Buenos Aires, home to 14 million people and one of the world’s megacities, where students learned about globalization strategies, economic and social change, and Argentina’s turbulent 20th-century history.

The 17th-century Jesuit settlement of San Ignacio Mini introduced students to differences in human-environment interaction over space and time and provided insight into colonial social practices. At Iguazu Falls, students marveled at the power of water to erode the physical landscape, with 275 individual waterfalls carving out a spectacular sub-tropical environment.

After a three-day journey across the top of Argentina and through the semi-arid Chaco region, the program spent four days in Salta, the historic colonial city of the northwest region.  Dr. Chris Bierwith, KIIS Director, joined the program in Salta for a four-day visit and accompanied the students on excursions to the indigenous settlements of the Quebrada de Humahuaca, to the remote mining community of San Antonio de los Cobres, and through the old and newer neighborhoods of the city.

A two-day journey along the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains brought the students south to Mendoza for a four-day visit.  Capital of the Cuyo region, Mendoza is the gateway to the country’s wine industry and the Uspallata Pass linking Chile with Argentina. Students studied the impacts of tourism, viticulture and trade along the bi-oceanic corridor linking Brazil, Argentina and Chile. After three days traversing the central Pampas grasslands, with stops in the agricultural centers of Santa Rosa and Azul, the program arrived back in Buenos Aires for two final days of urban exploration.

Students commented about how valuable this study abroad experience had been for them:  “This international experience was phenomenal.”  “I’ve learned countless things, met interesting people, and long to return.”  “My scope of the world has widened, and I long to see more of the world and to analyze it.”

“The students were engaged in a challenging academic experience during the program,” Dr. Keeling said, “with regular lectures and discussions, the maintenance of a scientific journal, and hands-on field experiences where students learned to read and interpret the physical and cultural landscapes.”

WKU students participating were Ronnie Santana, geology major from Bowling Green; Andrew Leet, geography major from Versailles; and Dustin Winchester, a geoscience graduate student from Bowling Green (and Social Studies teacher at Bowling Green Junior High).

Contact David Keeling at (270) 745-4555.

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