Collaborative biodiversity course held in Puerto Natales, Chile

Forty graduate students from around the world attended the two-week course, which was organized by both Chilean and U.S. universities.

Forty graduate students and 15 teachers and specialists from around the world descended on the Patagonian city of Puerto Natales last month for a special two-week postgraduate course titled “Biodiversity and Conservation.”

Conducted by the Universidad de Magallanes, the University of North Texas, and the Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad de Chile, the course was a great example of how Chilean universities are collaborating with universities in other nations to promote scientific discovery and exchange ideas.

The “Biodiversity and Conservation” class focused on the ways in which environmental issues are not just scientific issues, but also economic, political, and social concerns. Environmental scientists, philosophy professors, and social scientists from around the world were on hand to stimulate discussion.

Many leading experts attended the course, including American Dr. Stuart Chapin, former president of the prestigious Ecological Society of the United States and current professor of ecology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Chapin noted many strong connections between Alaska and Chilean Patagonia, including the similarly extreme environments of the two locations. But the most important tie between the regions, in Chapin’s opinion, is that both are experiencing climate change and the social and economic challenges that go along with it.

This common challenge makes the educational and research ties between the two locations so important, according to Dr. Chapin.

Environmental educational courses like “Biodiversity and Conservation” are ongoing in Chile thanks to the work of the Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad de Chile (IEB). The IEB brings together scientists from around the world to undertake cutting-edge ecology research, train young scientists, network with national and foreign counterparts, and contribute to the overall development of Chile. Since the organization’s launch in 2005, over 500 students have attended an IEB graduate course.

Learn more about past and future IEB courses on the organization’s bilingual website.