From March 25-27, McGill University students visited Pedasí to participate in the Panamanian section of a course called “Environmental Management for Developing Areas”, taught by Dr. Ana Spalding, Adju. The course was part of McGill´s Panama Field Study Semester, a study abroad program designed to introduce students to critical themes of the Latin American tropical environment. The program represents a partnership between McGill and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).
Dr. Spalding lectured on how environmental management fits into the ¨development¨ process, particularly how traditional and modern land use affect environmental sustainability. She focused on how Pedasí faces infrastructure pressures from increased real estate projects and tourism using the example of trash management and the recycling initiative Recicla Pedasi, formed as a partnership between AEP, the Mayor´s office, and Plinio Antonio Moscoso High School. The class visited El Quindio, the local trash dump, led on a tour by Pedasi Mayor Dr. Ricardo Barrios.
These lectures created a background for interviews on waste management in the Pedasí community. Students groups interviewed local residents as well as business owners (restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets) on local waste management practices: type and amount of trash disposed, methods of disposal, and experience with recycling. Students then analyzed the responses from these interviews and reported on their findings.
Dr. Spalding commented: ¨This course was particularly satisfying as the interviews were conducted in collaboration with the Azuero Earth Project´s waste management project, which really made it possible for the students to feel that their work had practical applications and would actually be used by a local organization.¨
Written by Sophie M. Fuchs