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Course Overview

The fourth year course (IDH 4007 and IDH 4008) is entitled "Looking to the 21st Century" and usually involves discussion of contemporary issues. This one focuses on issues concerning the Everglades National Park (ENP) -- examining not only the Everglades ecosystem and the politics surrounding its conservation, but also literature and art about the Everglades, such as the photographs of Clyde Butcher and recent novels that use this watery wilderness as a setting, like Peter Matthiessen's Killing Mr. Watson. This course requires active participation from each student, most classes take place outdoors, rain or shine, and involve physical activities such as hiking, biking, canoeing, and walking through the swamp or slough slogging. Class meets every other Friday for the entire day (9 AM - 5PM) at various off-campus locations (see dates on syllabus) and will be team taught by FIU's Honor's College Faculty, Dr. Peter Machonis, a linguist, and Dr. Devon Graham, a tropical biologist, along with various guest lecturers and rangers.

The first semester syllabus concentrates on the origins of the ENP idea through the first impressions of the 19th century naturalist John James Audubon, the early movement to protect the Everglades, and the legislation that led to the dedication of America's first biological national park in 1947 by President Truman. Students will also learn about the origins of this unique ecosystem along with its flora and fauna and "class" will involve plant, habitat and wildlife identification in the field, as well as "inhabiting the lives" of some of its early explorers.

Much of the original Everglades wetlands were destroyed as Miami and South Florida grew, and today the ENP faces strong threats to its survival. The second semester then will focus on various attempts to "save the Everglades" and the reasons why this is important. It will include an in-service project -- probably an all-day Everglades clean-up at Chekika, the most recently acquired part of the Park. During part of the second semester, students will work on individual or group projects, and a poster session for public display will be held at the ENP Visitor's Center.

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