Boqueron Environmental Center Proposal 4

Draft Proposal

This draft proposal has as its goal the greater involvement of Fordham faculty, staff, and students in Puerto Rico. The current social and economic decline of Puerto Rico, caused both by natural and social forces (hurricane Maria, as well as the debt crisis brought on by the decline of the model of economic development of the ELA or Commonwealth) would be highlighted as the context within which to focus on the environment. In addition, local innovative programs and initiatives to develop and improve the environment and local lives would be underscored. That is to say, we would seek to look at the environment in Puerto Rico from a broad social and cultural perspective that makes use of our knowledge, scholarly interests and resources as social scientists, cultural critics, and STEM faculty. The following beginning draft focuses on a neglected part of the island that has strong environmental components and that could serve as an initial coordinating center and consortium for the further development of this goal.

Boquerón Environmental Consortium for Social Progress (BEC)

Mission Statement: BEC will organize programs, classes and projects with faculty, the administrative staff, students and community members with the objective of advancing Puerto Rico’s progress toward an island community that is green, healthy, prosperous, just and collegial.

Based in seaside town of Boquerón, a popular beach area for island residents, the Consortium will host groups of students and others (e.g., service vacationers and/or volunteers?) who combine learning and service programs.

The center would be staffed by highly qualified residents/experts, academics from local organizations, and universities, as well as from universities in the states. Funding will also be sought to bring in speakers from other countries who are knowledgeable about environmental issues, tropical plants, animals, and products, e.g., mangos and more.

Places to visit and volunteer are described in the Appendix; see below “Places Relevant to Environmental and Conservation Issues near Boquerón, Puerto Rico.”

The Consortium will be engaged in a range of activities, depending on the interests of the groups. Some possibilities are listed below:


As the Appendix shows, albeit somewhat neglected within the larger environmental movement, this is a very special part of Puerto Rico—and, indeed, of the planet—with much to see, learn and do.

In addition to classes offered to students and the local community, there will be opportunities to volunteer with local organizations, and to work on GIS mapping. It is anticipated that these classes will have two tracks, one would be credit-bearing and in the other track, courses would not be credit bearing, but would involve a certificate of completion.

Economic Development

We will study and map the local economy, learning its strengths and weaknesses and devising plans to ignite dynamic, sustainable and equitable growth.

Social Engagement

Cabo Rojo plaza on Saturday nights;
church services in local churches;
tutoring in local schools;
working with youth groups;
assisting the elderly with transportation, medicine and more;

History and Current Political Situation


Next Steps and/or Possibilities to Consider:

First, we would need to develop a list of local resources with whom we could establish contact and collaborate: scholars from the UPR, local activists, projects and initiatives that are responding to recent crises through innovative approaches that address the environment in social and cultural holistic and progressive ways.

Second, we need to identify resources that Fordham can contribute to this project and the personnel who (including students, faculty, and administrators) might want to be involved in this project. Initial established channels that come to mind include: ICC service-learning courses, co- sponsored by several departments and programs (LALSI, Sociology, MLL), and the new community-engaged learning Consortium. Possible formats include recruiting students for these courses, which could be of different durations, e.g., winter and spring break two-week courses and later summer programs. These courses would work though the established channels of Fordham’s Study Abroad Program (SAP) and students would pay the university for credits and lodging. The university would in turn pay the professors involved as well as the staff hired in Puerto Rico.

Third, we need to develop a long-range schedule for the development of the program. Perhaps, as a first step, we seek funds for an initial visit to Puerto Rico to explore and establish contacts and connections with local resources and to create a syllabus and a proposal to offer a first course, which would be offered through the SAP the following year.

Appendix: Places relevant to Environmental Issues near Boquerón

  1. Centro Interpretativo de las Salinas, (Salinas interpretative Center) established by the Comité Pro Salud y Ambiente (Cabo Rojo Citizen’s Committee established in the 1980 for the Improvement of the Environment and Health in the area). This interpretative center is located at the site of the oldest continuously working salt flats in the Americas. It is located at: Carretera 301 Km.11 (Camino al Faro)
  2. Salt Flats:
  3. Bird Refuge: – Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge, The Desecheo National Wildlife Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico. It is part of the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The island of Desecheo is located 14 miles west of Puerto Rico and is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. (Wikipedia) Address: Road 301, km 5.1, Boquerón, Cabo Rojo 00622, Puerto Rico. Area: 360 acres Phone: +1 787-851-7258 Established: 1976 Management: United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Refugio De Aves De Boquerón is a popular nature preserve located in Boquerón. Translated as the Boquerón Bird Refuge, the main purpose of the site is to provide a safe haven for the many migratory and native birds that call the area home for at least a season. Bird watchers can take the opportunity to visit the refuge and try to see some rare birds.

  1. Mona Island
  2. Light House, begun by the Spanish in 1882 and completed in 1887. It is one of the 27 sites in Puerto Rico (??) included in the National Register of Historic Places. https://
  3. State Forests of Boquerón, This town is home to not one, but two nature preserves which tourists are welcome to tour and explore. One is home to several species of endangered birds (see link above), while the other is one of seven state forests. (See also govt site: DRNA.)
  4. Travelers wanting to visit another great natural attraction will enjoy exploring places like Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. Drive south on Route 2, which is the main highway, away from Mayaguez. Exit onto Route 100 towards Cabo Rojo, and take a left onto Route 101.Punta Pitahaya Nature Area. Part of the greater Boquerón State Forest (known locally as Bosque Estatal de Boquerón), the Punta Pitahaya is one of the prime spots in the state forest and the island to catch a close look at the wildlife and nature of Puerto Rico. With the quality of the nature experience and the relative ease of access, the Punta Pitahaya is a prime location for eco-tourist and nature lovers.

8. UPR – Mayaguez – from Wikipedia:

RUM is a land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant state university located in the city of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. UPRM is the second-largest university campus of the University of Puerto Rico system. It is a nationally ranked, excellent engineering school.

UPRM has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) since 1946. Also, the engineering undergraduate program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the nursing undergraduate program is accredited by the National League for Nursing (NLN) and the Chemistry Department is recognized by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The College of Business Administration is going through the process of the AACSB accreditation. The Mayagüez campus of the University of Puerto Rico has been a member of Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) since 1966.

UPRM continues its development in the best tradition of a land-grant institution. It is a co-educational, bilingual, and non-sectarian school comprising the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering and the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies. The College of Agricultural Sciences includes the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Agricultural Extension Service.