SEE-U Jordan
SEE-U Jordan

This summer, the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, is offering a new five-week undergraduate field study program in Jordan. The Jordan program is part of the popular Summer Ecosystem Experiences for Undergraduates (SEE-U) course, which already operates field study sites in Brazil, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. There are only 15 slots for SEE-U Jordan, open to undergraduate students in any major who attend Columbia College, Barnard College or the School of General Studies. The program fulfills six credits and two core science requirement courses for Columbia University. The program runs from May 21 through June 25, 2011.

The five-week SEE-U study program in Jordan is offered by CERC in conjunction with the Columbia University Middle East Research Center in Amman. Guest lecturers from Jordanian universities and organizations will also participate in instruction. The focus of the program is to enable students to develop an understanding of Jordan’s key environmental issues, which include limited natural freshwater resources, desertification and deforestation resulting from over-grazing, and conserving biodiversity.  

“The SEE-U program immerses the students in the native country and successfully teaches them how to think like a scientist,” says Nancy Degnan, CERC’s executive director. “Jordan is an ideal location to add to the suite of SEE-U destinations. We are thrilled to partake in this unique educational endeavor, which will highlight the science, culture and environment of this exceptional country. The opportunities for institutional collaboration and hands-on learning are vast. It will be a memorable and eye-opening experience for our students." 

Students will attend classes as well as participate in field research aimed at illuminating Jordanian ecology. The location is ideal for biodiversity studies because a wide variety of flora and fauna are found in Jordan's wetlands, marine, freshwater, desert and forest ecosystems. Ecology and biology coursework will be integrated with fieldwork at various sites across the country. Jenna Lawrence, SEE-U Jordan instructor, looks forward to five weeks of a most unusual learning experience. “With unparalleled access to protected areas and academic resources, students will have the opportunity to collaborate with Jordanian experts in ecology and sustainable development on cutting-edge research projects with real-world implications."

The program will begin with classes held in the capital city of Amman, after which students will travel south to the coastal region of Aqaba to study coral reef and marine ecology at the Red Sea Marine Science Center. The program will also include fieldwork and stays at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature’s reserves in the Ajloun forests, the Wadi Mujib canyon bordering the Dead Sea and the desert region of Dana. The experience will provide a comprehensive look at the country’s biodiversity while working alongside Jordanian scientists.

Michael Pippenger, Columbia College’s associate dean of fellowship programs and study abroad, is enthusiastic about the great value of the new SEE-U opportunity in Jordan. “This program will provide our students a rigorous science curriculum in an international context. It offers undergraduates the unique experience of learning from and researching with Jordanian experts in the field of environmental science. Whether on a coral reef in the Gulf of Aqaba, a desert plateau near the Dead Sea or a nature reserve in a rare Oak forest, our students will be immersed in scientific inquiry, deepening their liberal arts education in innovative and unexpected ways.”

Interested candidates should complete the SEE-U application available on the CERC website. Selected students will be subject to a competitive review process, including an interview with staff members. 

For more information about the program, please contact Desmond Beirne at djb2104@columbia.edu or 212-854-0149.