Faculty and students in Antioch University New England’s Department of Environmental Studies (ES) are making a large impact in Rwanda and other African countries this winter.
Beth Kaplin, core faculty member in the department, just returned from Rwanda, where she worked with colleagues in the Ministry of Education and UNESCO on establishing the Center of Excellence for Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management for Rwanda. Kaplin will help coordinate launch of the knowledge management center, a network comprising eight institutions, recommended by Rwandan President Paul Kagame six years ago. Collaboration of these “nodes” will be coordinated by a central hub hosted at the University of Rwanda (UR). The Center will function as a corporate center for biodiversity and natural resources-related research, education/training, information management, and bioprospection—finding and commercializing new products based on natural resources.
While in Africa, Kaplin followed up on trainings led by Kayla Cranston, adjunct faculty, John Lloyd, affiliate faculty, and Apollinaire William, ES doctoral student, in Rwanda and Burundi last summer, and in December in Democratic Republic of Congo through the Regional Network for Conservation Educators in the Albertine Rift (RNCEAR). RNCEAR is funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Kaplin also worked on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant, housed at AUNE, which she was awarded for a research project on buffer zones and chimpanzee conservation. ES students and others with ties to AUNE are currently busy in East Africa:
•Apollinaire William is mapping watersheds in northern Rwanda for pilot work for his dissertation research.
•Lynn Kimmel, an ES master’s student studying human-wildlife conflict and conflict transformation, is in Kenya on an internship with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, focusing on helping that organization collect information about human-wildlife conflict issues affecting the endangered Grevy’s zebra. Earlier, Lynn was in Rwanda taking a School for International Training’s Conflict Transformation Across Cultures (CONTACT) course in conflict transformation, as part of her research.
•Katelynn Frei and Adrienne Chitayat, ES master’s students, are working in Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park. Katelynn is studying arboreal nocturnal primates, pioneering a new approach using camera traps in the canopy. Adrienne is studying behavioral ecology of chimpanzees in a forest fragment adjacent to the national park. Both are working closely in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rwandan Development Board, which manages the park.
•Dottie Morris, chief officer of diversity and multiculturalism at Keene State College and former faculty member in AUNE’s Applied Psychology Department, was in Rwanda visiting Kaplin and working on team building in the University of Rwanda’s Department of Biology.
Kaplin returns to Rwanda in mid-February for six weeks to continue work in the UR Department of Biology, funded by the MacArthur grant. She’ll also work with the Ministry of Education and Steering committee for the Center for Excellence in Biodiversity, and on research projects with students.