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Welcome to the 2012 Research and Study Abroad Program on Climate Change and Sustainable Development!

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CATHALAC and UAHuntsville offer an eight-week research & study abroad program in Panama, focusing on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Through this unique educational program, participants will receive professional training, hands-on learning, and experience how climate change influences sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Students will acquire basic knowledge and skills on the science of climate change, analyze historical trends in climatic variability and human vulnerability, and examine the current national and international policy debates on climate change adaptation and mitigation. The course will be instructed in English by CATHALAC's research scientists and professors from the Department of Atmospheric Science at UAHuntsville.

While in Panama, participants will implement supervised research projects in collaboration with different institutions in Panama. To facilitate professional collaboration and cross-cultural communication the students will receive Spanish training and will live with host families.

Program dates: June 3rd – July 28th, 2012. Deadline for applications is March 26, 2012.

Benefits

• Specialized interdisciplinary training in new, emerging fields related to climate change and sustainable development

• Study at a globally recognized international organization, gain expertise,, and professional skills

• Enhance technical and scientific knowledge through extensive, practical, hands-on experience

• Develop critical-thinking skills

• Be part of innovating solutions to environmental problems

• Cultural immersion through home-stays and excursions

Contact Information

CATHALAC
Study Abroad Program
P.O.Box: 0843-03102
Panama City, Republic of Panama
Physical Address: Ciudad del Saber, Edificio 111, Clayton, Panamá, República de Panamá
Phone: +507 3173206/3207/ 3245
Email: studyabroad @ cathalac.org
Website: http://www.cathalac.org

Frequently Asked Questions

How much spending money do I need to bring to Panama?

The good news is that you don’t need to exchange money. The US dollar is used in Panama and the Balboa exchanges at 1 to 1.

“How much” depends on your shopping/eating habits, and how many non-program activities you want to do. However, there is not a lot of free  time outside program activities.

The Panamanian government requires that people coming into Panama have $500 dollars. However, this is lot of cash to carry and CATHALAC can usually assist new arrivals at customs so that it’s not necessary to have the full amount. Therefore, we recommend bringing $150 (for entry purposes) and a major credit card. Big bills are hard to break in Panama, so a majority of smaller bills ($10 and under) is preferable.

However, $300 is not enough to last the entire summer. In previous years, participants have said they’ve spent anywhere between $500 to $1,000 over the course of the summer.

Check with your bank before going to Panama. Likely, you can withdraw money from ATMs with a small additional fee.

Do I need to bring a credit card?

Yes. you must bring a major credit card for emergency use for amounts more than can be withdrawn with an ATM/debit card.

Where can I keep my money and valuables?

The first rule of traveling is, “Don’t bring anything with you that you are not willing to lose.” So, big ticket items should probably stay at home. Having said that, the homestays are secure, and you can likely prevent any possible problems by keeping your money and valuables locked in your suitcase in your room.

Do I need to carry my passport with me all the time? How about the passport card?

Panamanian law requires that visitors carry their passports at all times. Since officials might not recognize the more convenient passport card, it’s better to carry your actual passport. The best way is to wrap it in cloth and put it in a ziplock plastic bag (to keep it dry) in your front pocket.

Can my parents/friends visit me during my free weekends?

No. Outside visits during the program are highly discouraged. It’s important to remember that the Research and Study Abroad Program is not a vacation. The program is very demanding, and even during weekends, participants are making follow-up site visits, working on their final research projects, or participating in the program’s excursions and activities. Furthermore, non-participants are not able to join program activities, and homestay families cannot be expected to accommodate visitors.

If participants would like to stay in Panama AFTER the program has ended and receive visitors, they can modify their flight ticket, at their own cost.

What kind of clothes do I need to bring? I’ve heard Panamanians don’t wear shorts. Is it true?

You will need some good hiking shoes and outdoor clothes (see packing list), but you’ll also spend a lot of time in the program classrooms and facilities, so casual work clothes are also necessary. At times, you’ll also go into town, and want to dress nicely. The presentation of the final research projects requires more formal dress, so also bring at least one professional outfit.

Traditionally, Panamanians don’t wear shorts unless they are playing sports or at the beach. However, in recent years, this tradition has relaxed, and it’s accepted more. However, be forewarned that some institutions (especially government ones) might not allow you to enter the building if they feel you are inappropriately dressed. Always ask the CATHALAC staff if you are in doubt about appropriate wear.

What’s it like living in the accomodations in Panama?

Participants are housed for 2 weeks at the City of Knowledge and one week in the field. Lodging will be dorm style and/or a small inn. Participants will share a room with another roomate or roomates.

I don’t speak Spanish. Can I still do the program?

Don’t worry. The program is taught in English or translated through interpreters. Pre departure Spanish training is offered in which you’ll learn practical Spanish that will help you in your daily and research activities. The more Spanish you learn, the better your experience will be, so take full advantage of learning or improving your Spanish in Panama!

Is Panama City dangerous?

Like any any modern, large city, there are certain areas and times that are more dangerous than others. In the orientation, you will be informed of what areas to avoid. As anywhere, walking or going somewhere alone (especially at night) is highly discouraged. Walking or going places in groups is always best at any time.

What is there to do outside of program activities?

There are many things you can do in Panama City. The Old City and Causeway are popular places for sightseeing, shopping or eating out. Or you can visit a nearby national park for hiking.

During the program, independent travel outside of Panama City is limited due to the nature of potential risks, language barriers and transportation reliability. For safety’s sake, participants must consult with CATHALAC prior to independent travel away from Panama City. Proposed travel cannot conflict with scheduled program activities and must be approved by the study abroad coordinator in advance.

Do I have to apply to and enroll through UAHuntsville to be able to participate in the program?

Yes. All participants need to apply to and be accepted to UAHuntsville BEFORE they can apply to be in the program. You can read about how to apply to UAHuntsville here. Once you have been accepted and assigned an “A Number,” you can apply for the summer program.

If you are selected to be a participant, you will be able to enroll in ESS 490 (Selected Topics in Environmental Science) and ESS 499 (Undergraduate Research Capstone) which are the classes that make up the summer program. Participants can earn six undergraduate credits that are transferrable

If all the materials are in order, US citizen and international applicants can apply electronically and be admitted quickly.

What is the application deadline?

All complete applications received by March 15, 2013 will be considered. Applications are not considered complete unless we have received ALL of the application materials:

1. Application
2. Transcript
3. Statement of Purpose
4. Recommendation Letter (must be sent directly from the Evaluator, NOT the applicant) Therefore, it's very important to follow-up with your Evaluator to ensure that they have sent the recommendation form, and in time for the deadline.

When can I learn if I’ve been accepted into the program?

Applicants will be informed of the selection committee’s decision within two to three weeks after the deadline. Successful applicants must pass a physical, sign a letter of comminttment and provide a $300 deposit as soon as possible thereafter to hold their spot in the program.

How do I get to Panama?

Participants will take a program arranged group flight from Huntsville airport.

Are “visiting students” eligible for financial support from UAHuntsville?

No. Only current full-time UAHuntsville students are eligible for program funding from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Therefore, visiting students are encouraged to seek funding from their home institutions as early as possible in the application process. Visiting students are highly encouraged to seek funding AT THE SAME TIME they apply to the program. If they wait until after the selection process, it will likely not leave enough time to find funding opportunities.

Dates and Location

 

CATHALAC headquarters are located across from the Panama Canal in the City of Knowledge (in Spanish - Ciudad del Saber), a former US military base transformed into an international complex for education, research and innovation developed to promote and facilitate synergy between universities, scientific research centers, businesses, and international organizations. Currently, CATHALAC has a staff integrated by professionals from eleven different countries.

The Kiwanis Sports Village is located at the heart of the City of Knowledge, and it has a walking/jogging trail, baseball, softball, soccer and basketball fields; tennis courts, outdoor swimming pools, and a gym. Students will have access to a selection of these facilities during the Study Abroad Program!

The combination of these sports facilities and services, the international organizations, business, schools and universities, and residential homes surrounded by rich flora and fauna and open green areas make the City of Knowledge a pleasant and a unique place in Panama and in Latin America in general.

To learn more about the history of the City of Knowledge please click here http://www.ciudaddelsaber.org/foundation/background

City of Knowledge - Gym
City of Knowledge - Park
City of Knowledge - Pool
City of Knowledge - Restaurants Area
City of Knowledge - Sports Field

Academic Requirements and Course Credits

Academic Requirements

Applicants must have successfully completed at least 2 semesters of undergraduate work and have basic computer skills. Basic Spanish proficiency is a plus but not required.

Course Credits

Undergraduate students will receive 6 credits that can be transferred to their home institution. For further details contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at UAHuntsville's Office of Vice President for Research

Tuition and Fee Structure for 2013 Summer Program:

ESS 490 (3 Credits), ESS 499 (3 Credits)

*The Program Fee covers lodging, meals, facilities/staff use, on-site transportation, materials and program events. The Program fee does not include the cost of passport, immunizations or personal expenses.

**Funding is only available for current full-time, degree-seeking students of UAHuntsville. These students are also eligible to receive funding for airfare. Visiting students from other universities should contact CATHALAC directly for information on the program fee. Payment for airfare is also the responsibility of visiting students.

***Participants invited to join the program must pay a $300 commitment fee to hold their place. The commitment fee will be refunded when the full 10-week program is successfully completed by the participant. If the participant drops out or is expelled from the program, the commitment fee will be forfeited.

Contact Past Participants

Students who have returned from Panama are very enthusiastic to talk about their experience. Most of these students discover that their friends and families only really want to hear the 5 minute summary. These students would LOVE to talk to you about their own study abroad experience!


Claire Herdy
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Melanie Phillips
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Nicole Dsouza
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Amanda Bosserman
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Jason Pounders
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Kirstin Cooksey
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Casey Calamaio
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Zack Langford
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Joseph Wyman
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Joshua Myrick
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Emma Norton
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Nancy Pospelov
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David McConnell
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Tiffany Keeton
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Program Description

SEMINAR ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA (ESS 490 - Selected Topics in Environmental Science)

3 credits

Course Description

Through professional training and hands-on learning, students will embark on an experience to understand how global climate change influences sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Climate change is an issue that spans many fields of study and affects both society and the environment at multiple scales. As such, students will apply a multidisciplinary and integrated approach to both the challenges and opportunities presented by global climate change. The course, taught in English, will involve assigned readings, group discussion sessions, hands-on laboratories, and a mix of interactive lectures. Throughout the course, students will learn about different research methodologies and the use of appropriate technologies to analyze and monitor climate change's impacts on natural and human systems in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Course is comprised of various topics including Introduction to Sustainable Development,> Introduction to Climate Change Science and Policy, Social and Political Aspects of Climate Change, Methods and tools for Climate Change Research, Human Impacts on Ancient Environments, Human Impacts on Modern-day Environments, Water, Our Energy Future, Agriculture, Geographic Information SyGIS, Remote Sensing, Population and Disease, and Air Quality.

Read more about this class description including reference reading materials and useful links HERE

SUPERVISED RESEARCH IN CLIMATE CHANGE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN LATIN AMERICA (ESS 499: UAHuntsville Undergraduate Research Capstone)

3 credits

Course Description

The Capstone Research Project is an essential component of the Study Abroad Program on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The acquired knowledge, skills and methods learned in the Program, are to be applied during the development and implementation of the guided research projects. Throughout the Program students will review and familiarize themselves with different research methodologies, including Geographic Informtion System (GIS), remote sensing, and in-depth interviews. The guided research provides students the opportunity to gain professional experience by working on projects alongside CATHALAC's international staff. The students will work in groups that will be guided by an Research Supervisor to whom they must communicate and report on a regular basis. All students will have access to CATHALAC office facilities during and/or work with other external organizations. Upon completion of the guided research, students present their preliminary research findings to CATHALAC staff.

Read more about this class description HERE

ESS Capstone Guidelines

Thematic areas covered:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Climate
  3. Disasters
  4. Ecological Forecasting
  5. Energy
  6. Health and Air Quality
  7. Oceans
  8. Weather
  9. Water Resources

Representative Readings
2010. Tim Ormsby et al. Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop. ESRI Press.
2010. Hamlyn Jones & Robin Vaughan. Remote Sensing of Vegetation: Principles, Techniques, & Applications. Oxford University Press.
2011. Paul Longley et al. Geographic Information Systems and Science: 3rd Edition. John Wiley & Sons.
2007. James Campbell. Introduction to Remote Sensing: 4th Edition. Guilford Press.
2003. David O'Sullivan & David Unwin. Geographic Information Analysis. John Wiley & Sons.
2006. Merrill Ridd & James Hipple. Remote Sensing of Human Settlements: 3rd Edition. ASPRS.
2005. John Krygier & Denis Wood. Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS. Guilford Press.
1998. National Research Council. People and Pixels: Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science. National Academy Press, Washington DC.
2007. James Wiseman and Farouk El Baz. Remote Sensing in Archaeology. Springer Press.
2011. Richard T. Wright and Dorothy F. Boorse. Environmental Science: Toward a Sustainable Future, 11 edition. Pearson Education Publishing. San Francisco, CA.

 

Smart Travel

U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling by air to and from Panama must:

  • Present a valid passport when entering or re-entering the United States. Panamanian law requires that travelers present a passport valid for at least six (6) months.
  • Purchase a tourist card at the airport in Panama before clearing customs or contact the issuing airline to purchase $5.00 tourist card prior to boarding plane. Tourist cards are for sale at the airport, however, we recommend making this purchase prior to arrival to minimize time at customs. The tourist card should allow a stay for up to 90 days.
  • Present tickets or documents for return or onward travel
  • Have sufficient cash (US$500) or a credit card.
  • Airport Tax: There is a $40.00 airport tax departing from Panama and it can be paid at the airport. This is paid in cash at the airport leaving Panama.

All selected applicants should review travel information about Panama available from the United States Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control. Please click on the links below for this information.

Department of State Information on Panama

CDC Health Information on Panama

Other recommended and useful information can be found at:

http://studentsabroad.state.gov/

International Mandatory Insurance

All Study Abroad students are required to have proof of international coverage for Emergency Medical Care, Transportation/Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains

About UAHuntsville

aboutuah UAHuntsville


Founded in 1950, UAH is an autonomous campus of The University of Alabama System dedicated to excellence in teaching, research, and service. UAH is a key participant in one of the nation's major international centers for advanced technological research and utilizes its position in this environment to provide unique opportunities and creative programs for students, faculty, and the community. UAH is committed to maintaining a diverse academic community of the highest quality, and to providing an environment that facilitates intellectual, cultural, personal, and professional growth. UAH fosters leadership, creative and critical thinking, clear communication, a respect for knowledge and the pursuit of truth, and an engagement in the challenge and pleasure of a lifetime of learning.

About Panama

Panama, officially the Republic of Panama is the southernmost country of both Central America and, in turn, North America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital is Panama City.

Flag

flag of_panama
Area, Population and Density: 75,517 square Km; the total population is 2,839,177, 81 persons/square mi.

Language:
Spanish is the official language, although many Panamanians speak English.
If you want to know some basic phrases in Spanish before your trip to Panama, we recommend visiting this web site: www.learnspanishtoday.com   Scroll to the bottom and click on “Go to free online Spanish lessons” You can use the username: Friend. The password is: spanish32.
English  has a presence in the business and service sectors. It is interesting to note that native speakers of English in Panama have developed varieties of the language that are unique in the Caribbean. Indigenous groups keep their languages alive in their daily living. In stores, you will probably hear Cantonese, Haká and Mandarin Chinese, Hindi from India, Hebrew by the Jewish community.As you can see, Panama is not only a “melting pot” but also a "language pot".

Population: Panama has always been a crossroads between cultures, earning the nickname “melting pot”. With a population of almost 3 million people, 67% of it is made up of mestizos (Amerindian mixed with white) and mulattos (white mixed with black); 14% black; 10% white; and 6% Amerindian (indigenous or natives) and a 3% is made up of various ethnic backgrounds. (IPAT, Panama)
So many of Panama’s extraordinary locations are steeped in history – stories abound of cruel chieftains raiding peaceful villages, of ferocious pirates battling natives, and of conquerors bringing new cultures with them as early as the 1500’s. One can also find existing indigenous communities in Panama, living almost as they did centuries ago. Indigenous groups that maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage make up 10% of the total population. It is estimated that several indigenous groups including the Kuna, the Ngöbe-Buglé, the Emberá, the Wounaan and the Naso were living on the isthmus prior to the Spanish arrival.
Workers from many distant countries arrived for the construction of the Canal in the late 19th century, and then they stayed on and started families in the new republic. The Cantonese Chinese, Hindustani, Jewish and Arabian communities are numerically significant. There have also been large numbers of immigrants from Latin American countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Peru, among others. This migration continues today, as does race mixing, which creates a ¨rainbow population¨, where everyone is a bit of everything.

Time Zone: The time in Panama all year long is the same as the EST (GMT -5). Panama does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Currency: The official currency in Panama is the Balboa (B/.). It has the same value as the American dollar and it exists only as coins.  Coins include one, five, 10, 25 and 50centavos (or centésimos) American coins and bills are valid throughout the territory. Many businesses won’t break US$50 and US$100 bills, and those that do may require you to present your passport. There are of course exchange offices where you can buy balboas, i.e. dollars, in exchange for Euros, Canadian dollars, or other commonly used currencies.

ATMs
Throughout Panama, ATMs are readily available except in the most isolated places .Generally speaking, ATMs accept cards on most networks (Plus, Cirrus, MasterCard, Visa, Amex). The amount that can be withdrawn at one time varies from bank to bank, though it is usually around US$500.

Taxes
A 5% sales tax is levied on all nonfood products. A tax of 10% is added to the price of hotel rooms.

Tipping
The standard tipping rate in Panama is around 10% of the bill, though in small cafés and more casual places, tipping is not necessary. Taxi drivers do not expect tips.

Weather and Temperature: Panama has a humid tropical climate. There are only two seasons: the dry season, known as ¨summer¨ (mid December to Mid April); and the rainy season, known as ¨winter¨ (April to December), but note that even during dry season we still have some rain. Temperatures reach 95°F, but most buildings are air-conditioned (at times the AC is too high and it’s recommended to have a sweater). These two seasons set the pace in Panama.

Electricity
Electric power in Panama uses 110 volts. You can buy plug adapters in hardware stores, or even small power converters for appliances that need a voltage other than 110.

Calling Panama from abroad
The country code is (507), there are no state or city area codes

Agricultural Products
The Panamanian rural areas produce sugar cane, bananas, plantains, rice, corn, coffee and tomatoes for local consumption and export. If you visit the local markets or the small fruit and vegetable shops, you will get a chance to taste a huge variety of tropical fruits: guava, pineapple, mango, guanabana, passion fruit, and many other less known but tasty and exotic.

Important Numbers

  • 911 – Emergency
  • 102 – Information (similar to US 411)
  • 105 – Local Time
  • 106 – Operator International Calls
  • 238-2782 / 238-2783 – Tocumen International Airport (PTY)
  • 512-2269 – Judicial Police
  • 211-3044 – Tourism Police (English)


Visa/ Tourist Card Requirements:

U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling by air to and from Panama must:

  • Present a valid passport when entering or re-entering the United States. Panamanian law requires that travelers present a passport valid for at least six (6) months.
  • Purchase a tourist card at the airport in Panama before clearing customs or contact the issuing airline to purchase $5.00 tourist card prior to boarding plane. Tourist cards are for sale at the airport, however, we recommend making this purchase prior to arrival to minimize time at customs. The tourist card should allow a stay for up to 90 days. The tourist card is granted to citizens from Argentina, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan and Australia, among others.
  • Present tickets or documents for return or onward travel
  • Have sufficient cash (US$500) and a credit card for emergencies.
  • Airport Tax: There is a $40.00 airport tax departing from Panama and it can be paid at the airport. This is paid in cash at the airport leaving Panama.

About CATHALAC

CATHALAC building

Established in 1992, the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean (in Spanish ¨CATHALAC¨- Centro del Agua del Trópico Húmedo para America Latina y el Caribe) is an autonomous international organization dedicated to promote sustainable development through applied research and development, education, and technology transfer in the areas of integrated watershed management, climate change, environmental modeling and analysis, and risk management in Latin America and the Caribbean. CATHALAC has proven to be a pioneer in bridging the gap between science and policy for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

CATHALAC’s Study Abroad Program is part of the Center’s Education Programs. The objective of these programs is to form a community of professionals with multidisciplinary backgrounds who are capable of responding to both the challenges and opportunities related to Integrated Watershed Management, Climate Change, Environmental Modeling and Analysis, and Risk Management.  
The skills and knowledge gained in CATHALAC’s Education Programs prepares participants for competitive professional leadership positions in a variety of public and private institutions. CATHALAC’s education programs translate into success through the energy and enthusiasm that students, along with our staff, bring to their individual and community endeavors.

How to Apply

Application Materials:
Download the fillable PDF file and complete it. Be sure to "Save As" using your family name and "application" (ex: SmithApplication). Do likewise for the Statement of Purpose (ex: SmithSOP). The application and SOP can be sent as an E-mail attachment. They can also be sent via regular mail, fax or delivered in person (see contact information at the end of application).

You must also include a scan/copy of your unofficial transcript. Finally, you must have an evaluator (a faculty member familiar with your academic performance) to submit a letter of recommendation. Print out the form and fill out the top half. Give it to your evaluator as soon as possible. Your evaluator will submit the letter and recommendation form directly. Be sure to check with them if they have done so by the deadline. Applications without a letter of recommendation will NOT be considered.

* Research and Study Abroad Program Application
* Guidelines for Rating Spanish Proficiency
* Recommendation Form (to be signed by student and distributed to evaluator as soon as possible). Application is not complete until recommendation is received.
* Statement of Purpose