Enhancing University STEM Students' Understanding of Sustainability Through an International Experience in Bucaramanga, Columbia


  • Sandra A. Labby Texas A&M University - Texarkana


Sustainability of natural resources involves the endurance and processes of diverse biological systems and the protection of those systems (James, Magee, Scerri, & Steger, 2015). The 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified three interconnected goals of sustainability: environmental protection, social development, and economic development (United Nations General Assembly, 2005). Unfortunately, humans have negatively impacted numerous ecosystems globally, and thus, the survival of humans and other organisms.

Quite often, university students are naïve to economic, social, and biological issues of protecting, harnessing, and/or maintaining sustainable resources. Students do not have the experiences to understand the complex nature such concerns pose to the quality of life in the United States and in other countries.

Through the joint collaboration of Texas A&M University-Texarkana and La Universida Autónoma de Bucaramanga, Colombia, several biology and engineering students from A&M – Texarkana were immersed in the culture of Bucaramanga in an effort to create environmental, social, and economic awareness of that city’s efforts related to soil erosion, water conservation, and energy production issues. Students from both universities presented their understandings of these issues to students in a local public school in Bucaramanga. The purpose of this case study was to determine if the development of a parallel course design was indeed replicable and, to assess the value of an international partnership experience for university Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students while developing their awareness and understandings of global issues related to sustainable resources.