100,000 Strong in the Americas grant establishes Institute of Ecotourism Studies in Todos Santos

CSU sign at Todos Santos Center

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One of eight recipients of a 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant, Colorado State University-Pueblo, the Colorado State University Todos Santos Center, and Autonomous University of Baja California Sur (UABCS), will collaborate to establish an Institute of Ecotourism Studies in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

“This grant signals the importance of the work being done across borders within the CSU System and through our partnerships,” said Amy Parsons, executive vice chancellor of the CSU System. “We have seen the impact that an exchange of knowledge, perspectives, and culture can create in our students and in ourselves through experiences at the CSU Todos Santos Center, and we’re excited to share that more broadly with the creation of an Institute of Ecotourism Studies.”

Each year, the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, sponsored by MetLife Foundation, facilitates eight new higher education partnerships between the United States, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia that offer new exchange and training opportunities to students who traditionally lack access to, or are underrepresented in, international exchange programs.

The bi-national effort will be led by CSU-Pueblo Assistant Professor of Recreation & Outdoor Leadership Dr. Daniel Bowan. Bowan will work with Kim Kita, director, special projects & partnerships at Colorado State University, and Dr. Plácido Roberto Cruz Chávez, professor, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, to stand up the Institute.

The Institute will utilize the foundation laid by the CSU Todos Santos Center, established in 2015 as a regional hub for engagement, collaboration, and exchange of ideas throughout Baja California Sur.

“The formation of the Institute through this grant potentiates work that is already happening, and allows us to engage students in Colorado and Baja California Sur to support workforce and student development in the ecotourism industry,” Kita said. “It allows all of us to commit to long-term partnerships and to create lasting impact for students and livelihoods in the region.”

The Institute of Ecotourism Studies will focus on undergraduate education and highlight the significance of ecotourism in the Baja California Sur region and in Colorado by providing education around the role and impacts of tourism on local cultures and communities.

The programs will occur in Mexico and Colorado with focus on ecotourism, sustainable travel, and alternative tourism issues. Courses will be open to CSU-Pueblo, CSU-Fort Collins, and Autonomous University of Baja California Sur students, and will focus on cultural exchange between students from Mexico and Colorado. The grant will support three field-based academic courses to be held throughout 2018.

“We are excited to partner and develop an Institute of Ecotourism Studies in Mexico. This collaboration represents a unique opportunity to promote cultural exchange and advance understanding around the issues of ecotourism,” said Bowan, who has an extensive background in experiential education, leading successful outdoor expeditions for the past 20 years.

The grant will also support the development of an Ecotourism Symposium to be hosted at the CSU Todos Santos Center in Mexico, featuring educational workshops, clinics, and research presentations with the goal of supporting local workforce development. Working with Todos Santos Eco-Adventures, a premiere ecotourism company, the symposium will engage a variety of regional industry partners and students.

There is much work to come, but being awarded the 100,000 Strong in the Americas grant is a big step in the direction of executing that strategy, Kita said.

“The Institute is an idea, and a name for the work that’s about to happen – the work we can accomplish together,” she said. “This grant allows us start down the path to formalize that vision.”

About the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund sponsored by the MetLife Foundation will fuel strategic partnerships among higher education institutions in the Western Hemisphere.  The Innovation Fund grants are $25,000 each, and grant-winning teams contribute additional resources to leverage and implement sustainable short-term study abroad programs in the Western Hemisphere. Since January 2014, the Innovation Fund has awarded 134 grants to teams of 263 higher education institutions from 25 countries in the Western Hemisphere. More than 1,700 higher education institutions form the Innovation Fund’s network, including 1,000 U.S. universities and community colleges. 100,000 Strong in the Americas — the leading higher education initiative in the Western Hemisphere — aims to increase the annual number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, and bring 100,000 students to the United States by 2020. A complete list of recipients may be found at: http://www.100kstrongamericas.org/category/media/press-releases/

About the CSU Todos Santos Center

The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service and outreach.

The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research and produce impactful outcomes.

CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine and public health.