Learn about our previous course: Combat Climate Change in Rural Colombia

This course Sustainable Development and Ecological Restoration in Rural Colombia, will consist of an 8-day visit to the town of Libano, Colombia, over spring break March 17-24, 2024, with an additional travel day on each end of the trip.

Students accepted to the program should arrive in Bogotá by Saturday, March 16, and plan their departure for Sunday, March 24.

Info Session Recording (Pass: MIIS2024!)

Payment Deadline: February 1

Pre-Departure Meeting 1: Friday, February 16 (2-4pm PT)

Pre-Departure Meeting 2: Friday, March 1 (2-4pm PT)  

Predeparture Zoomhttp://go.miis.edu/el24 Pass: 2024 

Our key local partner is Quinta Esencia Taller


The creation of a sustainable global food system is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. By 2050, the global population is expected to increase to 10 billion, requiring a substantial increase in food production. Moreover, over 850 million people –about 9% of the global population—did not have access to sufficient food in 2021, while obesity is a health crisis in many developed countries. High-input, animal-based, industrial agricultural practices drive land concentration, deplete soils, and generate deforestation. With the loss of soil and forest carbon, the agri-food system accounts for 30% of global carbon emissions. It also accounts for 53% of methane and close to 80% of nitrogen emissions. Deforestation is also a primary driver of biodiversity loss.

Global warming will have—is already having—major impacts on the productivity of food production. In Colombia, for example, coffee exports have fallen for three years due to drought, straining livelihoods and exacerbating social conflict.

Sustainable and regenerative rural development models—of the sort we will explore Líbano—utilize ecological restoration to mitigate emissions by increasing land-based stores of carbon, enhance biodiversity, and adapt to a changing climate by creating climate-resilient, sustainable livelihoods.

In Líbano, students will visit farms committed to revenue-producing regenerative agriculture and eco-tourism operations, meet with local ecologists, economists, and development experts, and participate in a community educational workshop.

Known for coffee-growing, the municipality of Libano area produces a wide variety of global food commodities, including coffee, cacao, and avocados. The town hub for NGOs, as well as University and UN organizations. In town, we will meet with farmer organizations, as well as NGOs and university and UN organizations.  We will visit farms with regenerative agriculture and silviculture projects. 

Methodology of the course

The primary methodologies of this course are 1) project-based and 2) experiential. In Monterey, students will work on an applied research project that promotes the educational mission of Quinta Esencia Taller. Co-Directors Ledis and Alex will work with students to co-design the project. In Líbano, students will experience the principles and practices they have been studying and deliver their preliminary results in-person to a community workshop in Líbano. In the second half of the semester, students will complete their projects and present their findings to Quinta Esencia Taller and the MIIS community.

There are four primary learning goals:

  1. Understand the principles and practices by which restoration ecology can offer pathways to sustainable development and conflict transformation.
  2. Gain a foundational understanding of the history, culture, and political economy of rural Colombia.
  3. Gain practical experience in harnessing knowledge and skills to collaborate with a community-based partner to deliver tangible benefits.
  4. Develop intercultural communication skills by learning from and interacting with Spanish-speaking communities in rural Colombia who are generating local approaches to restorative, sustainable development.
  1. Relates or is integral to MIIS degree program(s) learning objectives or course requirements.

This course strongly complements the learning objectives and course requirements of the Environmental Policy and Management Program (EPM). The Program offers an elective course in Regenerative Agriculture, which is highly popular with students in all three of our specializations. A number of students want to pursue professional careers in sustainable agriculture—this elective EL course would help fill out their preparation. Moreover, students in the Sustainability Management track are required to take an “Applied” course. This EL course would be an option.

Finally, EPM students are required to take an ICC course, and our course will be cross-listed as an ICC, Spanish, and EPM course, satisfying this requirement if needed or desired.

  1. Builds relevant professional skills for the students in the program.

Professional research and writing

Cross-cultural collaboration with peers and clients

Intercultural awareness

 Field research

Oral persuasion skills

  1. Academic deliverable(s) and evaluation criteria

The primary academic deliverable will be the project co-designed with our partner. Students will present their preliminary results in-person in Libano and their final results in-person in Monterey and via Zoom in Líbano. Students will be evaluated on the following criteria, recreating the evaluation criteria from last academic year:

Project                         50%
Participation                25%

Final reflection            25%

  1. Pre-Departure intercultural competence preparations

Jaime Gonzalez will brief students on the history and current social, economic, and cultural life of the Libano region. Similarly, he will be central to the logistics of the program as the logistical leader of the team. Jaime functions as the focal point with partners in Líbano. The group will also participate in ICC training prior to departure.  

  1. During-Experience Reflection Mechanisms

Students will keep a daily journal of key learnings. There will be daily meetings as a group to debrief on what was interesting, challenging, confusing, rewarding, etc. 

  1. Post-Experience Debrief Opportunities

There will be a post-experience group dinner to debrief. Students will give a presentation to the wider EPM community during a “Happy Hour” event in the garden. 

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