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Will Some UC Students Get A Firsthand View of the End of the World?

A trip to the Mayan Ruins is one of four international study abroad experiences that UC faculty will be leading over winter break.

Date: 12/11/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Provided by Robert South

UC ingot   A group of 36 University of Cincinnati students ranging from freshmen to seniors are taking on the challenge to “Be There When the World Ends,” as they explore the landscapes and legacies of Yucatan, Mexico, over UC’s break between semesters.
Uxmal, an archaeological site. The pyramid is called
Uxmal, an archaeological site. The pyramid is called "Pyramid of the Magician."

The group will be exploring the Mayan Ruins as part of their trip and will be touring the region on Dec. 21, 2012 – the end of the Mayan calendar, or what has been called the Mayan doomsday prophecy.

The trip provides real-world experience in exploring other cultures and building foreign language skills, developing an awareness of third-world challenges and building an understanding of the region’s contemporary economic structure.

Robert South, an associate professor of geography in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), has led the study-abroad seminar for 22 years. The trip includes visits to ancient Mayan archaeological sites, a visit to a flamingo sanctuary and tours of colonial cities and manufacturing plants as they research U.S. investments and Mexican development. Students will also visit a school and bring gifts to the schoolchildren, as well as play a game of soccer.

UC students exploring the Maya site, Ek Balam.
UC students exploring the Maya site, Ek Balam.

“It will be an exciting time to visit this part of the world,” says Bradley Miyagawa, a first-year pre-pharmacy student from Bridgetown. “All paranoia aside, I look forward most to seeing the impact of U.S. investments on the physical and societal landscape of the region. Corporations’ decisions impact thousands of individuals that the average consumer may never think of, and I wish to view this side of the free market.”

The trip will also be led by Constance Lardas, an adjunct instructor for the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Pending that the world does not end, the students will arrive home in time for Christmas. The experience runs from Dec. 14-22.

The UC 2019 Academic Master Plan aims to increase the number of UC’s students studying abroad as part of its goals of preparing students for a global marketplace and an ever-evolving modern world.

University Honors Program Leads Two Study-Abroad Seminars Over Winter Break

The University Honors Program for academically talented students encompasses the top 7 percent of UC undergraduate students from across colleges and disciplines. University Honors focuses on unique and challenging academic and hands-on experiences that reflect the themes of community engagement, global study, leadership, research and the creative arts. The program serves students from every undergraduate college on campus.

Study in Brazil – An Honors seminar of 11 students led by Frank Russell, adjunct professor of planning and director of the UC Community Design Center and the Niehoff Urban Studio, will tour Rio de Janiero and Curitiba, Brazil, Dec. 12-23 to examine how cities can serve as an urban framework in developing innovations in sustainability. The seminar is related to an international research project among universities in the U.S., Brazil and France. The UC honors students are doing a comparison of two cities: Cincinnati and Curitiba, Brazil.

Morgen Schroeder, a fifth-year civil and environmental engineering major from Lakewood, Ohio, says the seminar has given her an entirely new perspective on the function of large cities. “This trip ties in well with my senior design project, which focuses on transportation. Brazil has an excellent public transportation system that has generated attention here in Cincinnati, so I’m excited about seeing this firsthand,” says Schroeder.

Schroeder adds that the first time she had ever traveled outside the country was on an international Honors experience to India in December 2010. “There’s no way that I could coordinate such a trip by myself, so it’s amazing that we have the opportunity to take advantage of these programs,” says Schroeder.

Touring the United Kingdom – An Honors seminar of 11 students led by Terry Grundy, an adjunct associate professor of planning, and Craig Vogel, associate dean and professor of industrial design, will travel to the United Kingdom Dec. 12-23 to explore the 18th century era known as the Enlightenment and its importance to the emergence of the modern world.

Students are exploring progress in science and technology, improved living conditions, government accountability and the role of arts and culture in society. Their travels will include a tour of the Royal Society, the British Museum, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich and a hike to the top of the Monument to the Great Fire of London, as well as a tour of Trinity College – Sir Isaac Newton’s college at Cambridge – along with time in London for gift shopping.

On Dec. 18, students will take a tour of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and then meet with RSA CEO Matthew Taylor. The RSA is an enlightenment organization that is committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. “Students would not have the opportunity to make these contacts without the world connections of the faculty who are leading this Honors experience,” says Debbie Brawn, director of academic programs for the University Honors program.

Mark Schutte, a fifth-year civil engineering major and full Cincinnatus scholarship recipient from Mason, Ohio, adds that students will be staying at Trinity Hall in Cambridge and Goodenough Club in London. Both are world-renowned for their contributions to scholarship. “I take these courses because they provide me with knowledge and perspective beyond my major,” says Schutte. “I’ve built houses during Honors seminars in rural Appalachia, and I’ve traveled to India to explore challenges affecting water and rural development. I had never been to Asia before.

“As I get ready to travel to England, these Honors seminars have taken me from exploring developing regions to exploring the history of where I came from, and the opportunity to examine the causes that led to why I think the way I do,” says Schutte.

Solar Power For Africa

A capstone experience for five UC undergraduates including two freshmen will take them to Ethiopia, where they will install a solar photovoltaic (PV) system in a clinic and in a primary school in a small farming village near Haramaya University. The course is led by Greg Beaucage, professor of chemical and materials engineering.

Over fall semester, the UC students in the course – ranging from freshmen to seniors – interacted with African students through Web/video links to University of Cape Town in South Africa, Haramaya University in Ethiopia, Kigali Institute of Education (Rwanda), University of Botswana (Botswana) and Rhodes University (South Africa). They were exploring how solar energy in Africa could be a clean-energy alternative to charcoal, wood and imported fossil fuels for areas with no access to grid power. The students also explored how they can get involved in addressing development issues in sub-Saharan Africa using technology and science they have studied at UC.

The study abroad trip, coordinated with Haramaya University, will also include a tour of historic and natural sites in Ethiopia.

Feature: Science and History Weigh in on the Mayan “Prediction”