Officials from Paul Smith’s College sign the memorandum of understanding with Escuela de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales.
Paul Smith's College will share its expertise in sustainable forestry and ecotourism with an institution in the Dominican Republic as part of a new agreement.
Under the memorandum of understanding with Escuela de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (EMARN)-the School of the Environment and Natural Resources-Paul Smith's will send students and faculty to the Dominican Republic in January, where they'll be hosted by the school and work on joint projects in the surrounding area.
In exchange, Paul Smith's will host students and faculty from EMARN in a Forest Ecology class in the Adirondacks next June.
Brett McLeod, a professor in Paul Smith's School of Forestry and Natural Resources who helped arrange the agreement, said the pact will help each institution broaden its students' horizons.
“They have an interest in developing students who are more worldly and understand natural resource issues in a global context,” McLeod said. “That's something we're looking to develop here as well, so our students have more international exposure.”
The agreement comes at a time when the Dominican Republic is trying to reshape its tourism model, said Patricia Abreu, the nation's vice minister of international cooperation for the Ministry of the Environment.
Tourism is one of the country's largest industries, she said, but visitors often see only resorts once they arrive.
“We're not just a beach and sun destination,” Abreu said. “The tourists don't get a chance to know the people-they are confined to four walls, buffets and a swimming pool.”
Officials with both schools expect students in Paul Smith's recreation, adventure travel and ecotourism program to help develop a plan to attract more visitors to other attractions in the Dominican Republic, such as hiking or horseback riding through the countryside. Paul Smith's faculty may also present lectures at EMARN.
The partnership took root three years ago, when a former dean, Andrew Egan, participated in a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project in the Dominican Republic and visited EMARN. The relationship has continued since then.