Winter Term Independent Study: Evaluating Rural Development Models in the Dominican Republic
What role do international nongovernmental organizations play in promoting development? To what extent can they encourage environmental conservation and rural development, and make this model sustainable by creating a revenue stream rather than depending on grants? This experiential learning opportunity will entail 2 faculty and 3 students going to the Dominican Republic to evaluate an innovative development model used by Zorzal Cacao. This reserve-farm partnership links environmental conservation efforts to the development of sustainable and profitable organic Cacao cultivation. As such, it seeks to demonstrate how environmental conservation, local development, and profitability are not mutually exclusive, but in fact, can reinforce one another. Students will evaluate this innovative development model by conducting original fieldwork research, and could choose to engage in GIS mapping of existing farms to identify potential areas of development, survey farming partners to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing partnerships, and research the factors that encourage or hinder potential new partners to participate in this model. Students will have a unique opportunity to engage in original fieldwork research and provide a professional program evaluation. Students must speak Spanish at either a proficient or fluent level.
Potential Projects that Students Might Select
- Evaluate current farm-reserve model – compare to surrounding farms
- Conservation – positive impact on thrush
- Fair/Direct trade – development
- Sustainability – ability of farm to support reserve
- Geocoding – GIS analysis or develop interactive map for farm/reserve
- Food focus – tree to bar, etc.
- November & December: students selected, and work with Professor Lewis and Professor Teets to develop projects. The owners will introduce the farm-reserve, and we will have other guests discuss different aspects of the project.
- Students will make travel plans (and enroll in IS if desired) by late November
- Dominican Republic: January 7th – 21st [Jan 7 (arrival day) to Jan 21st (return day)]
Application Process and Logistics
- This opportunity is paid for through a Middlebury College grant, so all costs other than incidentals will be covered for participants.
- If interested, students should email Professor Teets with a transcript, resume, and short essay explaining why you would like to participate, what sort of project most interests you, and how previous coursework, skills, or experiences have helped to prepare you to work on a research team in the DR.
- Applications are due by November 7, 2017.
- We will not have professional interpreters with us, so all students must be at least proficient in Spanish (fluency would be even better).