Latin America, Literature and the Environment
Ali Farr designed her own Latin American studies major through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. But Davidson also stimulated her interest in environmental issues. "I was inspired by seeing how passionate other students are about it," she said. "If I could fix one thing, it would be our perception of our place in the world. It's hard to think outside your individual needs, to see issues globally rather than locally."
In a seminar on sustainability she discovered an opportunity to blend her interests. She came across an essay, "Adventures of the Wild: Experiences from Biologists from the Natural State," and other writings by Venezuelan-born environmental educator Aldemaro Romero. "I thought he would be a great speaker to have at Davidson," Farr recalled. So she called him up and asked if he would come speak on campus. Cheeky perhaps, but not unusual at Davidson, where student initiative is encouraged. Romero, who teaches at Southern Illinois University, said he would be delighted.
With RSVP in hand, Farr still needed to raise $1,000 to fund Romero's visit. She was quickly able to garner support from the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, as well as the Spanish, Anthropology and Biology departments. "I was pleasantly surprised at how open and supportive faculty were about bringing him here," she said.
A Global View
Romero spent two days at Davidson, presenting a formal lecture about the depletion of pearl oysters in Latin America. He also met informally with Farr's class and talked with a group of students over breakfast about the detrimental effects of whaling. That visit and further studies have deepened Farr's interest in environmental issues. Eager to spread the word, she undertook a class project to help Admission Office tour guides find ways to mention the Environmental Studies major and other opportunities for environmental learning and action on campus. "You can't escape the environment. It feeds everything we do. As human consumption skyrockets, it's an issue we have to take seriously."