New Galapagos Trip Provides Firsthand Look at Evolution of Tourism
Published on August 14, 2014
• Student interests influence research during new Global Opportunities (GO) program
Tyler Shields, a double major in earth and environmental studies and chemistry, was one of a handful of students to request a Global Opportunities (GO) program to the Galapagos archipelago. He was put on a waiting list early, and through the work of faculty program directors John Bodinger de Uriarte and Carlos Iudica his dream to be included in the first trip of a new cross-cultural program became a reality.
Shields’ interest was rooted in connecting to a place made famous by Charles Darwin, a scientist who made the archipelago known in his treatises on evolution. The rising senior and his fellow students saw the species that gave rise to Darwin’s theories during a once-in-a-lifetime international study trip.
“Being an environmental science major, we’re taught all about Darwin. But we stood where Darwin stood and looked at these species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world,” Shields said. “You can read a million books and you can watch documentaries, but to actually be there is different.”
Helping a Global Environment
Shields also learned to appreciate the delicate balance that nature and tourism play through cross-cultural service activities. The communities that have grown up around the islands are completely dependent on a healthy environment, but the archipelago also needs a healthy tourist trade to sustain the economy on the islands. Issues such as a lack of potable water, waste disposal and controlling invasive species were examined by the students’ research. However, to actually help those communities, the group from Susquehanna partnered with the service-based organization Intercultural Outreach Initiative.
“We did a lot of service for the community when we were down there by helping their national parks service,” Shield said. “We did a trash pickup one day where we went into an area that was pretty horrible and cleaned it up. We could see an immediate impact after we finished.
“Being science students, we wanted to see as much as possible but tried to leave as little of an impact from our actions as possible, so it’s there for future SU students and the next generations.”