Colorado State University students are engaging in learning experiences that combine curriculum with a global perspective – and it’s all happening just more than 1,000 miles from the Oval.
The CSU Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location, and being CSU owned and operated allows for continuous research opportunities and courses integrated into standard curriculum.
Taking students out of the classroom can provide a transformational learning experience, said Ken Wilson, professor and department head of the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, who joined 16 students with fellow faculty, Paul Doherty, for a two-week course in Todos Santos. Students adapt to cultural differences, work in groups, and gain an international perspective, he said.
“Realizing that globally we are dealing with many of the same issues such as not enough water, energy demands, poverty, and understanding that we really are one big community living on planet Earth,” Wilson said. “For those in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, they got to experience firsthand the conservation and environmental issues in another country, and see firsthand some of the things only spoken of in books and videos.”
The Center is unique in allowing CSU professors and faculty an opportunity to teach abroad and there are possibilities for many academic disciplines to create courses that utilize the Center, Wilson said. As with all international opportunities, there are cost considerations, which can be addressed when designing a course, said Kim Kita, director of special projects and partnerships at CSU.
Augusta Ahlm, a College of Agricultural Sciences graduate student, has visited the CSU Todos Santos Center for a sustainable agriculture course as well as an anthropology course. She is conducting research for her master’s program, and noted the nature of the Center creates cross-disciplinary aspects for learning.
“Here on campus, we can learn theory and in labs,” Ahlm said. “But to learn from other places and value the knowledge of the people there, adds a valuable dynamic.”
Since the Center opened in April 2015, nearly every college has utilized the Center in some way. CSU students studying organic agriculture, wildlife biology, and veterinary medicine have utilized the CSU Todos Santos Center. Theater graduates have conducted “Kids Do It All” children’s theater workshops.
Educational experiences are not limited to curriculum. CSU has welcomed more than 1,000 residents of Baja California Sur to the Center for presentations and meetings. Students have visited local farms and fisheries to help students learn from locals about how industries operate.
“My original intent on coming on this trip was to learn about marine conservation and to be able to interact with the people and practice my Spanish,” said CSU student Brice Culhane, a senior, who was part of a Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology class that visited Todos Santos in January.
“Reflecting back on the trip I believe I achieved both these goals and so much more,” Culhane said. “… the experiences I had in Mexico have deepened both my understanding and my appreciation for the diversity of wildlife and I feel I am better prepared for any future career I may have in this field because of it.”
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.
Key facts regarding the CSU Todos Santos Center:
- Opened in April 2015
- Gathering and meeting space as well as residence-hall style lodging for up to 50 participants
- Multicultural learning opportunities for adults through workshops, alumni trips and OSHER Institute programs
- More than 1,200 residents of Baja California Sur have participated in CSU events, presentations, and meetings