Sophia University, Japan
"Organic Farming in Japan"
The success of organic farming in Japan must confront some of the most fundamental attitudes held by Japanese society. I am currently living in Tokyo, one of the most densely populated areas of the world, and each time I enter a supermarket I find produce of the same size and shape perfectly arranged on the shelves, each apple and pear and carrot showcasing an unnatural uniformity. Despite traditional Shinto beliefs in the importance of respecting nature, modern Japan seems to take a capitalistic approach to agriculture, emphasizing efficiency of land use and aesthetically-pleasing packaging over sustainability or nutrition. To learn more about how small, self-sufficient organic farms survive in Japan I will spend my two month break between semesters working on an organic farm in rural Japan through the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms program. Through this experience I hope to gain a firsthand understanding of the problems Japan faces as an island country with limited resources trying to feed teeming metropolises like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and many other cities. Is it feasible for organic farming to thrive on a large scale in Japan? Could Japan feed itself through organic farming? At the end of these two months I will synthesize my experience and research by creating a photo collection with captions that will explain what I’ve learned about Japan’s agricultural past, present, and possible future.
Universidad Austral de Chile (Middlebury School in Latin America)
"Glacial Meltwater as an Urban Resource"
Home to the largest glaciated areas outside of Antarctica and Greenland, Chile’s glaciers provide freshwater and hydroelectric power to most of the country. These glaciers are rapidly disappearing, raising questions about the supply of freshwater and electricity that will be available to urban populations in the coming decades. I plan to explore the impact of glacial retreat and climate change on urban population centers. In particular I will investigate the recent announcement that the Glaciar Echaurren, which forms Santiago’s principal water source, is likely to disappear within the next 50 years. Although this is the only such announcement that has made international news, I will also investigate the outlook for smaller cities where similar disappearances are expected. By speaking to hydrologists, glaciologists and urban planners I hope to learn what plans are being made to compensate for this looming water crisis and what changes will have to be made to the urban landscape.
Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (University of Virginia), Peru
"Saving Peru’s Waterways: The Effectiveness of Grassroots Environmental Activism"
Grassroots organizations have always seemed to me the purest, most altruistic form of activism. However, some people argue that while grassroots organizations are great in an idealistic sense, they may not be the most effective because they lack the resources (human and monetary) to bring about real change. I plan to explore this question during my semester studying in Lima, Peru. A small grassroots organization called Ecoplayas has been working since 1997 to preserve beaches and coastal areas of Peru. I hope to interview and to work alongside its members to gain an understanding of their successes and failures. I will then compare Ecoplayas to the Clinton Foundation’s top-down approach to environmental activism as well as to grassroots environmental activism being done inland in Puno on the outskirts of Lake Titicaca. In exploring these comparisons I hope to come to a better understanding about activism as a whole and to better understand the pros and cons of different types of environmental activism
Click here to view the video presentations of Kat Hartley, Stephanie Joyce, and Deanna Tamborelli, presented as part of the International Studies Colloquium, September 11, 2009.