Mercedes was attracted to Antioch University New England for many reasons, one of which was AUNE’s impressive dedication to interdisciplinary studies. She has always found it to be an important quality for an institution to support a more holistic view, especially of environmental issues. She entered the program in 2004 and completed her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies in 2008. She was immensely satisfied with the program: its rigorous adherence to scholarly excellence imbues confidence, reminds of the importance of service within research, and cultivates an atmosphere of wedded theory and practice.
Since the inception of her formal education, Mercedes has always sought out a multidisciplinary path and thus has a B.A. in Spanish Language and Culture, a B.S. in Biology, and an M.A. in History (centered on environmental history). She is originally from Maryland, but during her years at Antioch, she moved to Keene. While pursuing her degree, she taught Spanish Language and Hispanic culture full-time at Keene State College, a public liberal arts college. She very much enjoys teaching, which gives her a chance to share her strong sense of Hispanic culture that comes out of her bilingual and bicultural background, and allows her to promote the blending of environmental justice issues with the learning of Spanish. She continues to hope that this will become a permanent part of the education curriculum of Spanish majors. Working at Keene State College during the doctoral process was both a significant academic commitment and financial complement to her studies.
As regards her doctoral career at AUNE, she chose to approach her dissertation research through the combined lenses of environmental history, philosophy and hermeneutics. Her advisor, Dr. Alesia Maltz, was an outstanding pillar of support throughout the entire process. Alesia’s invaluable and steadfast guidance, the integral cohort model and the supportive faculty community made the doctoral experience an authentic environment of shared scholarship and continued growth. Mercedes’ area of focus was El Camino de Santiago, an internationally renowned landscape in Northern Spain, long considered a place for pilgrimage. She researched one of its oldest paths, the existence of which gained prominence in the ninth century. The title of her dissertation is Dwelling, Walking, Serving: Organic Preservation Along the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Landscape. Much of what guided her in this research has been her interest in the relationship between the globalization of ideas surrounding the preservation of lands and the strong interconnections between environmental and social justice. She was also very much influenced by the vanishing indigenous cultures and the growing numbers of dispossessed peoples and animals throughout the world. Her research contributes to the ongoing dialogue and to the development of new perspectives on these complicated issues as they relate to landscape preservation.
Presently, Mercedes resides in Spain and teaches at the Madrid Campus of Schiller International University. She teaches a range of courses in sustainable development at the graduate and undergraduate level where she encourages her students to challenge the current political economic paradigm in search for solutions toward social, economic and environmental justice. Her current research explores an array of eco-egalitarian and democratic concerns, including the persistent chemicalization and monopolization of the global food supply and its impacts on the health and well-being of people, landscapes and biodiversity. She continues to investigate the range of culturally diverse understandings of preservation and conservation, as they exist in the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities.