PUCV: Environmental Issues in Chile (dictado en inglés)

Las materias medioambientales son un asunto que afecta en la actualidad a todos. Este curso tiene como objetivo observar la realidad de Chile en esta materia, especialmente, en los problemas medioambientales que acontecen en la región de Valparaíso.





Course description

The course aims at studying and analyzing environmental issues in the Valparaíso Region, Central Chile. Students will study the causes of each specific issue and will analyze its technical solutions. Likewise, students will reflect on the causes and possible solutions of global environmental problems of modern society. Students will also analyze the concept of sustainable development and will discuss possible ways to achieve it.

Rationale and impact of the course

In modern trends of higher education, professor traditional teaching approach is substituted by the concept of student learning. Accordingly, the course will have a few lecture classes by the professor. The course will focus on interactive discussions about global and local environmental issues. During the discussions in class, every student will have the opportunity of expressing their opinions and discussing (or strengthening) their classmate opinions. The professor will select appropriate cases, articles and videos for the discussions.

Students will complete their learning by the following field trips:
1) Environmental impact of the Ventanas copper smelter (Puchuncaví valley). During the field trip, students will understand and discuss the historical effects of the smelter on ecosystems and agriculture. Students will also visit experimental plots of different soil remediation techniques.
2) Environmental impact of the Chagres copper smelter (Catemu valley). Students will have an opportunity to visit the smelter and to observe modern technologies to control atmospheric emissions of the smelter. Likewise, students will visit agricultural plots in the proximities of the smelter and will discuss the historical effects of the smelter on agriculture.
3) Environmental impact of avocado orchards on ridges along steep-hillslopes (Quillota). During the field trip, students will observe and discuss soil erosion in these avocado orchards. Students will also visit experimental plots of different techniques to decrease the soil erosion.
4) Environmental impact of traditional agricultural practices and alternative agriculture (Quillota). During the field trip, students will visit the La Palma Experimental Station of the School of Agronomy, PUCV. They will discuss how to achieve sustainability of traditional agricultural systems. Students will also visit experimental plots of organic agriculture.
5) Impacts of anthropogenic fires on Mediterranean-type ecosystems (Valparaíso). During the field trip, students will discuss the importance of biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Students will have an opportunity to visit a burned area and to observe post-fire revegetation responses.

Learning outcomes and expected student competencies

The course will encourage students to obtain environmental awareness and an informed personal opinion regarding global and local environmental issues. Interactive discussions will contribute to the development of oral communication, reflection capability, critical analysis of information, and respectful attitude towards different ideas and opinions. In order to incentive development of teamwork capacity, the course will be divided in groups.
Specific requirement of the course:
Students whose attendance to class will be below 80% will automatically fail the course.

Course units

  1. Thematic unit 1: The causes of global environmental problems and their possible solutions. Humans and nature: The world of complex interconnections. Complex relation between society and environment. Decisions and challenges. Optimism or pessimism? Where to start? A change: education, information, and social influence.
  2. Thematic unit 2: Environmental education
    Concept of sustainable development: Environmental, social, and economic aspects. Environmental education versus education for sustainable development. Proenvironmental and prosocial behavior. Environmental and prosocial education.
  3. Thematic unit 3: Over-consumption and the ecological crisis
    Consumerism and environment. Does consumption mean happiness? From consumerism to balanced consumption. The advantages of balanced consumption.
  4. Thematic unit 4: Local environmental issues. Environmental impact of copper mining. Effect of metals on human health. Phytoremediation of metal-polluted soils. Environmental impact of agriculture. Soil erosion. Nitrate pollution. Organic agriculture versus conventional agriculture. Impacts of anthropogenic fires on Mediterranean-type ecosystems.