2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Paper No. 10-13
Presentation Time: 11:00 AM-11:15 AM

THE PEACE CORPS EXPERIENCE AND COOPERATIVE INTERNATIONAL GEOSCIENCES RESEARCH AND EDUCATION IN COSTA RICA, CENTRAL AMERICA

MARSHALL, Jeffrey S., Geological Sciences Department, Cal Poly Univ, Pomona, CA 91768, marshall@csupomona.edu.

Although Peace Corps currently has no geosciences programs in Central America, returned Peace Corps volunteers continue to make significant contributions to Earth sciences research and education throughout the region. RPCV geologists are actively involved in geologic mapping, tectonics and hazards research, and geoscience education in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. For these geoscientists, the Peace Corps experience has proven invaluable in fostering cooperative working relationships with Central American colleagues and their institutions.

My own Peace Corps experience (Costa Rica, Fisheries Program, 1987-88), established the groundwork for a subsequent geosciences research and teaching career focused on Central American tectonics and geologic hazards. For 15 years, I have returned annually to Costa Rica to conduct fieldwork, direct student research, lead field trips, and attend conferences. These efforts have involved cooperation between many U.S. and Costa Rican institutions.

Peace Corps language and cultural training, with its “total immersion” approach, taught essential skills for working effectively and comfortably in Central America. Peace Corps service also provided direct experience with Costa Rica’s complex interagency bureaucracy, spanning a myriad of government ministries, foreign aid agencies, NGO’s, and academic institutions. Importantly, this included exposure to the norms of professional etiquette and the subtleties of interagency politics and rivalry. In my subsequent research and teaching activities, this experience has proven invaluable for organizing field logistics, accessing research information, and developing collaborative relationships with Costa Rican counterparts.

Of particular concern for many Central American geologists is the historical tendency of foreign scientists to conduct research without host-country collaboration and to publish results at home in foreign language journals (“academic imperialism”). Because of strong ties to their country of service, Peace Corps geologists tend to exhibit a greater commitment to collaboration and to information sharing. Such cooperation plays an essential role as Peace Corps geologists continue to apply their expertise to natural hazards education and mitigation efforts in Central America.

2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)
Session No. 10
Geologists in the U.S. Peace Corps: The Contribution of Peace Corps Geologists to International Development and the Contribution of the Peace Corps Experience to the Development of the Geosciences in America
Washington State Convention and Trade Center: 400
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Sunday, November 2, 2003

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 35, No. 6, September 2003, p. 39

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