For the second year in a row, a group of St. Mike’s students joined faculty in Cuba for a two-week course in coral reef ecology. The trip was an extension of the students’ fall semester course, which focused on the ecology, behavior, and inter-relatedness of the tremendous variety of organisms living in association with the coral reef. Through this deeply engaging, hands-on science program, students learned methods of field identification and taxonomic classification of reef organisms, and then performed underwater censuses at different beaches in the Bay of Pigs to create a baseline by which to measure the health of the reefs. Scientists in Cuba anticipate that the easing of travel restrictions with the U.S. will start to have a significant impact on the bay’s ecosystem.
While science was the trip's focus, cultural learning was an intrinsic and essential part of the program as well. Students spent time in the homes of Cuban families and enjoyed traditional meals, music, dancing and more. Every evening during the group's reflection time, much of the talk was about how different the actual Cuba was from expectations.
Faculty-Led Academic Trips provide a remarkable opportunity for an intensive learning experience between Saint Michael's College students and faculty. Held over December-January break each year, these academic trips reflect the College’s commitment to international education and experiential learning. Past trips have included courses in Ghana, China, and Wales.
The trips for 2016-17 have been just announced and include another visit to Cuba, as well as “Palestine and Israel: Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land” and “Costa Rica: Tropical Ecology Tour”.