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South Florida’s ecosystem topic for upcoming Study Away course

A new Study Away program will give WKU students an in-depth look into the ecosystem of southern Florida.

Recent geography graduate Kristy Burden-Smith takes notes at an outcrop of ancient coral within the Key Largo Limestone in the Florida Keys during March 2009.

The course, cross-listed as Geology 475 and Geography 475 with a graduate section of Geoscience 510, will take students on an intense one-week trip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West to study the impact that climate change and urbanization have on water resources in the south Florida ecosystem.

Led by Dr. Lee J. Florea, assistant professor of environmental geoscience, students will visit areas of geological, ecological and cultural importance.

Florea has extensive experience in south Florida, researching water resources and climate change in west-central Florida and the Everglades ecosystem while working on his doctoral degree and postdoctoral fellowship with the U.S. Geological Survey.

“This trip is a mix of past trips I have either taken or led,” he said. “It is designed to be fast-paced and to maximize student exposure to the literature and field experience.”

Florea said his first WKU trip to south Florida during the spring 2009 semester was successful, and this trip seemed a natural fit for a Study Away program.

“Using the resources of the Study Away program makes a course like this easier to advertise and offer to departments beyond geography and geology,” Florea said. “I fully expect this course to be a great success and a first step toward more regular and diverse field-based course offerings throughout our department and our university.”

The course will take place Jan. 8-15 during 2011 Winter Term. The program fee of $1,750 covers tuition, fees, housing, tours and group transportation. The application deadline is Nov. 8. Study Away scholarship applications must be submitted by Oct. 15.

For information on this course, contact Lee Florea at lee.florea@wku.edu or go to www.wku.edu/studyaway/.

For information about WKU Study Away, contact Jerry Barnaby at (270) 745-2231 or email study.away@wku.edu.

Study Away is a unit of the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach.

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