Some 9,000 miles from the Macalester campus, two students set out to find the dugong. A marine animal closely related to the manatee, the dugong is often credited with inspiring the legends about mermaids.
When dugongs proved to be about as elusive as the mermaids of folktales, the team switched gears, focusing on their goal of educating people about the island’s ecosystem.
“Our project turned into documenting the flora and fauna of these islands, which are up for development,” says Clark Bledsoe ’13 (Jacksonville, Fla.), who served as the videographer for the project. The anthropology major also used interviewing skills learned in that discipline’s courses.
Vinod Malwatte ’13, a native of Sri Lanka who lives in Colombo, had taken geography professor Bill Moseley’s class Comparative Environmental Development Studies. An environmental studies major, his capstone deals with his island home and the impact tourism may have on its environment.
Their research and project was supported by a Macalester Live It Fund grant through the Institute for Global Citizenship. The grant supports projects that best exemplify students enacting global citizenship. The grants are awarded by the IGC Student Council. This is a unique opportunity for students to wrestle with definitions of global citizenship and the feasibility of proposals submitted by their peers.
“This region’s very diverse simply due to the fact that there’s an ocean, lagoons, mangroves, and estuaries,” says Malwatte. “I would love for the documentary to serve as an educational platform, so that people can know what is going on in their own country.”
Four other students were awarded Live It Fund grants for the month of January, taking them to a rural community in Minnesota and as far away as Nicaragua.