Jan 20, 2016
Jan. 20, 2016
College to become the official "school of record" for all Round River study abroad programs
SALT LAKE CITY -
Westminster is pleased to announce a new partnership with Salt Lake City-based Round River Conservation Studies that will connect the college with ecological and educational study abroad programs for its students. Through the partnership, the college will become the official "school of record" for all Round River study abroad programs in places such as Namibia, Botswana, Chile, British Columbia and Costa Rica.
Round River Conservation Studies
is an ecological research and education organization that develops conservation strategies to protect and restore large-scale wilderness. Their student programs are field-based and allow participants to work alongside conservation biologists and local community partners.
"Partnering with Round River will help our students engage the world and become more globally aware," said Lance Newman, dean of Westminster's School of Arts and Sciences. "What makes Round River different than other field-study programs is that students work side-by-side with indigenous people who live on the land they are studying."
"Round River is excited about this new partnership," said Doug Milek, Round River programs director. "We feel confident in the life-changing experiences we provide our students going abroad, and Westminster faculty has demonstrated enthusiasm for exposing their students to these opportunities in addition to working with us to make our programs even better. This is a great step for our student programs and also for our conservation projects around the world."
Dr. Jeff Nichols, a professor of history at Westminster, traveled with Round River in the summer of 2014 to observe their student study abroad program in British Columbia near the Taku River.
"I was really taken by the beautiful and wild photos of the Taku River region in Round River's brochures," said Nichols. "Our dean shared the possibility of a faculty member visiting RR's Taku River project for a week, and I volunteered to visit. I was really impressed by the wide-ranging nature of the class and the emphasis put on close, constant observation of the natural world. If a single phrase sums up what they were doing, it would be training naturalists."
Six Westminster students have participated in Round River programs. Senior Kristina Benoist visited the Patagonia region of Chile to assist local organizations with exploration and conservation planning.
"The overarching focus of our program was conservation biology, restoration ecology and the relationship between humans and the environment," Benoist said. "We conducted various field studies including bird surveys, plant identification and the tracking of various mammals within those locations in order to determine the health of the areas and species within it."
"This experience helped me understand the world of conservation in a real-world setting," she added. "It is easy to sit in a classroom and think there are simple fixes to all of the world's issues, but in Patagonia, I was able to see all of the components that go into successful conservation and preservation of the world. I was able to come back and view my classes with a lens outside of my everyday life."
Through the new partnership, Westminster will take on several responsibilities for Round River, including the day-to-day management of the registration process for students nationwide who are interested in participating in the programs. The college will also incorporate the study abroad courses into majors like environmental studies and biology.
"We hope to integrate their study abroad experiences into our curriculum," Newman added. "We're forming an academic partnership that will benefit both Round River and our Westminster students."
Benoist also believes the partnership will be beneficial. "Round River encompasses everything that Westminster tries to instill in its students. It enhances all of the college-wide learning goals that provide the basis to all of Westminster's classes, but it is all executed in a hands-on, real-world situation. Round River as a whole provides the support toward finding the solutions for many world issues that the students of Westminster College are passionate about."