College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Geography > Student Resources > Dominican Republic Study Abroad
The Dominican Republic (DR) Study Abroad service-learning program offers a unique focus on questions of social, environmental and economic sustainability in the Dominican Republic. The central focus of the program is on sustainable food systems, environmental restoration, and reforestation in Rio Limpio, a town situated in the highlands of the DR bordering Haiti in the province of Elías Piña. Rio Limpio residents (population 1376) are engaged in a multi-decade long effort to employ organic agricultural practices spurred by a vocationally oriented high school focused on educating youth in sustainable agricultural techniques. The school, Centro Regional Estudios de Alternativas Rurales (CREAR) was founded during the 1980s as an agro-ecological vocational-technical farming school with scholarships for children of the poorest farmers in the region. CREAR graduates become technicians, field instructors, and organic farming specialists contributing to the expansion of organic farming in the DR (e.g., coffee, rice, fruits and vegetables). Many go on to become college-educated agronomists and agricultural scientists and technicians and Rio Limpio continues as a national experiment in sustainable agricultural practices and poverty alleviation. The town and region continue to struggle, however, with high poverty rates and challenges resulting from difficulties in the commercialization of agricultural products. In recent years, government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including a locally-run farmers cooperative, have sought to assist local residents in marketing of products domestically and, in the case of coffee, internationally., Decades of deforestation through slash and burn agriculture and the harvesting of trees for fuel and lumber have impacted the region surrounding Rio Limpio. The town is in proximity to two national parks visited by tourists, creating tension with local farmers who also seek to utilize land for raising livestock and producing food. An internationally financed reforestation program and past efforts to relocate farmers that practice slash and burn agriculture to greenhouse structures are all features of the Rio Limpio landscape. The highlight of the program is a 5-day knowledge exchange program in Rio Limpio where students will engage in curricular-based projects with CREAR high school students. DePaul students trained in GIS will participate in educating CREAR students on GIS community mapping while the latter educate DePaul students on local sustainable agricultural practices. Working alongside CREAR students on their school’s organic farm, DePaul students will experience the lived reality of environmental practice, while providing a needed technology resource that contributes to locally driven development efforts. Projects and lectures in Rio Limpio will be complemented by a variety of trips throughout the DR focused on the country’s history and issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability within a global context. Students will spend time in homestays within the city of Santiago, founded in 1495, and historically the center of the country’s Tobacco production and trade. Expert lecturer from a local university partnering with DePaul will introduce students to development challenges faced by the DR. Student will also engage in small geography service learning project at a school in Santiago’s most economically distressed neighborhood. During the second half of the program, students will travel to the capital, Santo Domingo, the largest city in the Caribbean with a metropolitan population of close to 3 million. Founded in 1496 by the brother of Christopher Columbus, Bartholomew Columbus, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas. It was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule and hosted the first university, cathedral, and fortress. The city’s Colonial Zone is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visits to museums and historical sites will bring to life literature on the turbulent history of the island and country. The latter will be complemented by a visits to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Dominican Republic Ministry of the Environment. A highlight of Santo Domingo will be a visit to the neighborhood of Los Mina, established in the 17th century by freed and escaped slaves, where students will visit St. Vincent de Paul Parish and learn about the work of the Vincentians in educating impoverished youth while engaging in a short geography service learning project with students at the parish high school. The progam will close with a visit to Alta Gracia Apparel, a fair trade clothing manufacturer and a small service learning project with an organization serving Dominican and Haitian girls in the coastal tourist city of Cabarete
Professor McHaffie joined the faculty at DePaul University in 1996 after academic appointments at West Virginia University, Dartmouth College, and West Georgia College. During the 1980’s he served with the Kentucky Geological Survey where he conducted environmental research related to coal mining, directed the National Cartographic Information Center affiliate office, and coordinated the State Topographic Mapping Program. Patrick served as Chair of the Department of Geography from 2001 to 2007 and is responsible (with David Jabon and Jennifer Galka) for the implementation of the DePaul GIS Laboratory on DePaul's Lincoln Park Campus.
Dr. McHaffie's research interests and publication history include the social history of cartography and GIS, the cartographic labor process, cartographic ethics, the geography of education spending, Appalachian social geography, and the social construction of the global. His current work (2008) involves a long term study of change in the cartographic labor process during the 20th century as well as work on automation as policy and ideology in the United States during the cold war. Over the past decade his work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, History of Cartography Project (University of Wisconsin), and the University Research and Quality of Instruction Councils (DePaul University).
Professor Rosing came to DePaul in 2001 and is the Executive Director of the Steans Center for Community-based Service Learning. He teaches in in Community Service Studies, Geography and the MA in Sustainable Urban Development program. Dr. Rosing is a cultural anthropologist whose research and teaching focuses on food access, economic restructuring, community food systems, and food justice movements in Chicago and the Dominican Republic. He is currently completing a citywide study of community garden yields in partnership with Neighborspace, Chicago's land trust for community gardens. He also maintains ongoing research in the Dominican Republic on urban and rural food systems.