In 2017, the Center for Land Use and Sustainability entered a collaboration agreement with a non-profit organization based in Chile, Corporación de Estudios y Desarrolo Norte Grande (CNG). Through this collaboration, we will be able to work directly with CNG to develop research and service-learning projects in which students will engage, greatly enhancing their international experience.
Since 2008, Drs. Paul Marr and Claire Jantz have been undertaking field-based research in northern Chile, initially to research the historical geography of nitrate mining in the Atacama Desert and more recently to study the high-altitude peat bogs (bofedales) of the Chilean Altiplano. They have also developed a field studies course for undergraduate and graduate students entitled “Field Studies in Northern Chile” (offered in 2015 and 2017) that allows students to spend two weeks in Chile learning about human-environmental interactions in the coastal city of Iquique, the Atacama Desert, and the Altiplano.
The collaboration agreement with CNG has grown out of these efforts. The bofedales represent an important water source for all of northern Chile; locally, they are critical for supporting the llama and alpaca herds of the indigenous Aymara. CNG has recently launched a program, Más Agua (), that focuses on both source water protection and the promotion of indigenous communities and knowledge. Under the umbrella of the Center for Land Use and Sustainability, we have developed mapping technologies that would benefit CNG’s bofedale monitoring requirements. For our part, a partnership with CNG opens new opportunities for student engagement in international service-learning and research.