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Location

San Juan, Arecibo, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Program Description

This winter course is designed to introduce students to caves, and their influence in Puerto Rican culture over millennia using geotourism as a framework. Students will learn the fundamentals of caves development, influence that caves have in Puerto Rican culture (and other Caribbean countries), and explore theoretical models to study the interaction human-geology. This program is crafted for geology majors, environmental science majors, and honors students, but is open to any major and student interested in learning more about Puerto Rican culture and caves.

Course learning objectives:
  1. Student will gain experience in interacting with and analyzing societies from a different scope than their own.
  2. Student will apply established theoretical models to study the interaction between local culture and regional natural resources located in the northern karst belt (where all the caves are).
  3. Students will study the significance of geoturism in the preservation of natural resources (e.g., aquifers, caves, karst, etc.).

We will be conducting daily expeditions to different caves in the northern region of Puerto Rico. During these daily expeditions, we are going to be reviewing the cultural and natural history of each location (ex. archaeological data, ecological scenario, geological uniqueness, and geoturism model). This course has the goal that each one of the students can construct a cave field guide that contains important features of the northern karst belt and Mona island for others to use. 

Class will meet at the end of the fall semester (TBA) twice to 1) visit Grand Caverns and observe their geoturism model as a foundational case and to 2) review local geology, Pre-Columbian history, natural resources, cultural continuity in the Caribbean, and archeology evidence within caves.

Location Description

The course is based in the archipelago of Puerto Rico. During this course we will be conducting daily expeditions during the week into caves located within the Municipalities of Loíza, Arecibo, Utuado, and Juana Diaz, followed by a 3-day expedition/camping to several caves located in the island of Mona (the island is part of the Municipality of Mayagüez), located to the West of Puerto Rico.

At each site, we will learn from with local experts the archaeological importance, contemporary cultural relevance, geological/geographical uniqueness, and future expected changes related to climatic change of the area.

Director

Angel Garcia Jr. | garci4aa@jmu.edu | Geology and Environmental Science

Felix Wang | wangch@jmu.edu | Center for Global Engagement

Accommodations

Accommodations will be provided for students through furnished apartment-like (locally known as Paradores) housing in the town of Arecibo (beach area) with internet access, A/C, full kitchen, and laundry facilities. A total of four students will be sharing each apartment. The apartments typically have 4 bedrooms. We are going to be using these Paradores as a base for all the trips with exception to the Mona Island expedition. Mona Island expedition which requires a 2-night stay camping on the beach. Camping gear will be provided during this trip.

Housing accommodations are strategically located in middle points between locations of interest.

During the week, breakfast and dinner will be catered to the Paradores in the morning and in the afternoon. For lunch, food will be provided for students to pack a lunch (ex. sandwiches, fruits, protein bars, juice, water). On resting days, students will be in charge of their own meals using program allowances. All meals are included as part of the Mona Island expedition.

Additional Items to Consider

Students are expected to feel comfortable with getting wet, muddy, and in close spaces. The majority of the locations that we are going to be visiting do not require to implement “serious caving” skills, however easy to moderate exercise activity to get into the caves is expected.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory since 1898, this means that traveling visas for US citizens are not required for this trip, neither is a passport.  We suggest that students have a valid REAL ID at the moment of traveling (more info here). As a US territory, the national currency is the USD. No money exchange is required for this trip. Official languages of Puerto Rico are Spanish (primarily) and English. Familiarity with basic Spanish is suggested. The program director is native Puerto Rican (Boricua). 

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5.

Although Spanish is not required, having the knowledge of basic Spanish with enhance the on-sight experience.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

Application Deadline

Dates


All dates are tentative and subject to change

Courses

ENVT 198E / GEOL 198E / HON 200: Puerto Rico's Cave and Culture (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.

Cost

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