Biodiversity in Guyana
doctoring the ark lucy spelman jaguar This is a travel course co-taught with RISD Literary Arts and Studies professor Dr. Nicole Merola. In this course, students explore the role of biodiversity in society, approaching the topic from multiple perspectives, including the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and visual arts. Taught collaboratively, this course emphasizes the importance of connecting ideas, information, and methodologies across the arts, humanities, and sciences, with an emphasis on biology.

Students spend the first week and a half at RISD, learning about the social history of Guyana; studying its geological, ecological, and biological history; exploring literature and art produced by Guyanese authors and artists; and examining the challenges and opportunities of both conservation and ecotourism in a developing country.

For the next 2 and a half weeks, they travel to Guyana. Most of this time is spent at Karanambu in the North Rupununi region, a biological hotspot known for its expansive wetlands and savannas. The last week of the course is held at RISD and includes final presentations.

At Karanambu, RISD students collaborate with local Makushi Amerindians as they conduct both of their research projects on biodiversity. One project is to collect data for one of several ongoing biodiversity monitoring studies. These include black caiman density, bird life distribution, aquatic invertebrate identification, and giant lily pollination. The second project is to explore the concept of biodiversity from a humanities perspective through the creation of an artist's book.

Students will share highlights from their research projects on the final days of the course.

This cross-cultural exchange is a key component of the course and of the Karanambu Trust's mission, which is to promote conservation research and sustainable development in partnership with local communities. Both sets of students will learn from each other.

For field notes from a past course see, RISD Field Notes .